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Rev. A. J. MAAS, S.J., 

Professor of Oriental Languages in Woodstock College, Mil. 

Vol. I. 


New York, Cincinnati, Chicago • 

ben^iokr Brothers, 

Printers to the Holy Apostolic See. 

FEB 2 6 1953 


Cum opus cuititulus est "Christ in Type and Prophecy," a 
P. A. J. Maas, nostrae Societatis sacerdote compositum aliqui 
eiusdetn Societatis revisores, quibus id commissum fuit, recognoverint 
et in lucein edi posse probaverint ; facultatem concediinus, ut typis 
mandetur, si ita iis, ad quos pertinet, videbitur. 

In quorem fidein has litteras nianu nostra subscriptas et sigillo 
Societatis nostrae nmnitas dedimus. 

T. J. Campbell, S.J. 

Neo-Ebor., die vii. Non. Jul., anno 1893. 


+ Michael Augustinus, 

Archiep. Neo-Eboracencis. 
Neo-Ebor , die ix. Cal. August , anno 1893. 

Copyright, 1893, by Renzioer Brothers. 


When St. Luke tells us (Acts xi. 26) that "at Antioch 
the disciples were first named Christians/' he implies that 
they were Christians before they bore the name. If Chris- 
tian means a believer in Christ, all that have ever believed 
in the Messias— the Hebrew equivalent for Christ — have 
been Christians. And since "there is no other name 
under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved " 
(Acts iv. 12), all that have been saved from Adam to Noe, 
from Noe to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from 
Moses to Jesus Christ, and from Jesus Christ to our own 
day, have been Christians, or believers in the Messias. It 
does not follow from this that the Messianic dispensation 
lias been at a standstill ever since the time of Adam. As 
the sunlight has its dawn, its increase, and its noonday 
brightness, illumining the whole earth, so has the Sun of 
Justice his dawn immediately after the fall of our first 
parents, his increase under the dispensations of the four 
great mediators of the Old Testament, and his noonday 
brightness on Thabor, Calvary, and Mount Olivet, whence 
he "enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world" 
(John i. 9). It is the object of the present work to study 
the rise and progress and supreme splendor of this Light 
of the World from the inspired sources supplied by God's 
own goodness and infinite wisdom. 

The subject is as many-sided as it is important and inter- 
esting. For it may be treated as a weapon against the Jew 
and unbeliever, as a crutch for the feeble in the faith, as 


an everflowing fountain for the dogmatic theologian, as a 
topic for the preacher, as a meditation for the devout, as a 
series of interesting facts for the historian and the psycholo- 
gist. Without extending this treatise to the length that 
would be required if each of these different views were 
the sole object of the work, the author has endeavored to 
combine them all in such a manner that the reader may 
readily adapt the subject to his own special purpose. The 
prophecies have been arranged under the eight heads of the 
Genealogy, the Birth, the Childhood, the Names, the Of- 
fices, the Public Life, the Suffering, and the Glory of the 
Messias. This division does not imply that each predic- 
tion foretells only one event in the life of our Saviour, nor 
does it neglect the chronological development of the 
Messianic doctrine, as a glance at the table of contents will 
show; but it has been adopted chiefly to impress the 
reader with the truth that the whole life of Jesus Christ 
has been the object of prophetic vision and divine revela- 

It is with sincere sorrow that the author surrenders a 
work that has afforded him so many hours of interior joy 
and consolation, but also with the lively hope " that the 
God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may 
give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in 
the knowledge of him" (Eph. i. 17). 

Woodstock College, Md., 

Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, 1893. 


chapter I. 



. History of the prophecy-argument 13 

a. Jesus uses it 13 

b. The apostles use the argument . . 14 

c. The evangelists use it 15 

d. The patristic use of the argument 16 

e. The progressive development of Messianic prophecy 17 

/. Why the argument was treated so frequently 18 

a. In England 18 

fj. In France 19 

y. In Germany 19 

6". In Germany, continued ... 20 

e. The rationalist's historical method 21 

C. Christian apologies 22 

7j. Less conservative apologies 23 

$. Works which deal partially with the prophecies 24 

. Dialectic form of the prophecy- argument 24 

a. Major premise 25 

b. Minor premise 26 

a. Historical truth of the prophecies 26 

1. The Old Testament books precede the New Testament.. 27 

2. Sibylline oracles 27 

3. The Book of Enoch 28 

a. Division of the Book of Enoch 29 

b. Author of the Book of Enoch 30 

c. Time of composition of the Book of Enoch 30 

4. The Book of Jubilees 32 

5. The Psalms of Solomon 33 

6. The ' ' Ascensio Mosis " 34 

7. The Revelation of Baruch 34 

8. The Fourth Book of Esdras 35 

9. Talmudic and Rabbinic sources 36 

Review of the historical truth of the prophecies 36 

ft. Philosophical truth of the prophecies 37 

1. Definiteness of the predictions 38 

2. Agreement between prediction and fulfilment 38 

3. Three exceptions 38 

a. First exception, and answer 39 

b. Second exception answered 40 

c. Third exception. M. Nicolas 41 



a. Ewald's view 42 

ft. Reuss' statement of the difficulty 42 

y. M. Reville's addition 43 

6". Kuenen's theory 48 

e. Kuenen's view further developed 44 

£. Kuenen's method illustrated 45 

Answer : 1. The naturally ecstatic state 45 

2. This is nowhere said to belong especially to the 

Hebrews 46 

3. Fallacy of Kuenen's induction 47 

4. The so-called natural facts have not yet been explained 47 

5. Ecstasy is not the criterion of prophecy 48 

6. Even one prophecy, established with certainty, is God's 

testimony 49 

7. Falsely alleged unfulfilled prophecies 49 

8. Philistia's destruction 50 

9. No time determined in predictions 51 

10. Prophecies concerning Israel 52 

y. Relative truth of the prophecies. 53 

1. Organic connection of the prophecies 54 

2. Identity of sacred and profane seer 54 



1. General misery 56 

a. Among the Egyptians and Indians 56 

b. Among the Persians and Mexicans 57 

c. Testimony of human sacrifices and other rites 57 

d. The Greek sages 57 

e. The later Greek writers 58 

f. Greek philosophic thought 58 

g. Testimony of Roman writers .... 59 

2. General hope of redemption 60 

a. The Persians 60 

b. The Indians 61 

c. The Chinese 64 

d. The later Arabians and Persians 66 

e. The Greeks 67 

/. The Germanic races 68 

g. The Celtic races 69 

h. The Esthenians 70 

i. The tribes of the Pacific islands 70 

/•. The Mexicans ... 71 

I. The Peruvians. 71 

///. Domingo, the Algonquin, etc 72 

a. The Romans 73 

a. The Etruscan seers 73 

(j. The Sibylline sources 74 

y. Despair at non-fulfilment 75 

8. Origin of Messianic prophecy 75 



o. The Hebrews 76 

a. To Solomon 76 

ft. Chronological summary 77 

y. From Solomon to Ezechias 78 

8. The prophets 79 

e. Result 79 

C. Division of prophetical books 80 

rj. Chronology of the prophets 80 

■&. Other prophets 81 



1. Verbal definition 82 

a. Creek etymology 82 

b. Hebrew etymology 83 

a. Intransitive meaning . . 83 

ft. Passive meaning 84 

y. Active meaning 84 

c. Use of the word 84 

a. Nabi 84 

ft. Roeh and Chozeh 85 

y. Difference of use 86 

6". Other names of prophets 87 

2. Definition from effects 87 

a. In the New Testament 87 

b. In the Old Testament 88 

a. Prophetic authority extends to all Israelites 88 

ft. Embraces private matters 88 

y. Political affairs 89 

8. Religious questions 89 

3. Definition from psychological condition of the prophet 90 

a. Purely intellectual or sensible 91 

b. Seven kinds of sensible prophecy 91 

a. Words 92 

/?. Visions 92 

1. Views of Philo, etc 93 

2. This theory rejected 93 

3. The prophets passive in their visions 94 

y. Dreams 94 

8. Ecstasy not excluded 95 

e. Prophetic certainty 90 

4. Rationalistic theories 96 

a. Briggs' theory 97 

b. Hiehm's theory 100 

c. Verdict on Hiehm's theory 103 

a. It is based on a false principle 103 

ft. Its assumptions are gratuitous 104 

y. The process of development is merely natural 104 

8. The definiteness of the prophecies is not explained 105 

e. The idea of fulfilment is destroyed 105 





1. The exercise of the prophetic office was extraordinary 107 

2. The call to the prophetic office was extraordinary 107 

a. The prophetic order and the prophetic gift are not converti- 

ble terms 108 

b. Prophetic schools 108 

a. Reasons for their existence 109 

ft. Reasons not convincing 109 

y. Schools involved in uncertainty 110 

8. Probable description of the schools 110 

3. The prophetic office was an ordinary institution Ill 

a. The priests are not the ordinary teachers Ill 

b. Deut. xviii. 9-22 112 

a. Reasons for applying the text to Christ alone 113 

ft. Its typical reference to Christ 114 

y. Its literal reference to the prophets 116 

c. The prophets were the ordinary teachers 117 

Exception answered 117 

d. Prophetic influence in the state 118 

e. Secondary functions of the prophets 119 

4. Prophets and priests 110 

a. They are distinct 1-0 

b. Not opposed to each other 120 

5. Prophets and kings 121 

6. The prophets and the Pentateuch 122 

a. Importance of this question 123 

b. Smith's view 124 

c. Influence on the historical books , 124 

d. Exodus. Leviticus, Numbers. 127 

e. Chronological order of sources 127 

/. The Hexateuch a development of prophetic doctrine 128 

g. The historical hypothesis is unsound 129 

a. The composition is impossible 129 

ft. Language 130 

y. Style of the documents 131 

8. Alleged repetitions, contradictions, etc 131 

e. Historical argument 132 

£. Osee's testimony 134 

7. Theology of the prophets 135 

a. View of God 135 

b. Divine names, 136 

e. The " name of the Lord " 137 

d. Mystery of the Holy Trinity 137 

e. Prophetic anthropomorphism 138 

8. Anthropology of the prophets 139 

a. General outline 139 

A. Beginning and end 140 

r. Bbeol 142 

lieview 112 




1. The prophetic writings are inspired 144 

2. Spoken and merely written prophecies 145 

3. Abbreviated prophecies 145 

4. Titles of the prophetic books 146 

5. The prophetic style 147 

6. Obscurity of the prophets 147 

a. Reasons of obscurity 148 

ex. Confusion of tenses 149 

(3. Fragmentary character of predictions 150 

y . The idea of prophecy does not involve absolute clearness. 150 

8. Absence of chronological perspective 151 

e. Chronological accuracy is not always wanting 152 

£. Prophetic imagery 154 

1. The typical sense 154 

2. Allegorical types. ... 155 

3. Difference between symbols and types 150 

4. How to recognize the typical meaning 157 

5. The figurative sense 158 

Part I. 




Introduction. 1. Position of Ps. ii 161 

2. Structure of Ps. ii 161 

3. Author of the Psalm 162 

4. Subject of the Psalm 163 

Text and Commentary. . 167 

Corollary : The Messias is the Son of God. . „ . . 176 

1. In the light of Christian revelation 176 

2. In the light of the Old Testament 176 

A. Rabbinic testimony for the Messianic character of Ps. ii. 177 

B. The Divine Sonship of the Messias as taught in the 

Synagogue 179 



Introduction. 1. Mythical explanation 184 

2. Symbolical explanation 184 

3. Allegorical explanation 185 

4. Messianic character of the passage 186 

Text and Commentary 186 



Corollary : The Messianic character of the passage 207 

1. Christian testimony 207 

2. Rabbinic testimony 207 

the messias is the son of sem. Gen. ix. 18-27. 

Introduction 212 

Messianic character of the passage 212 

Text and Commentary 215 

Corollary: Prophetic Summary 220 



Gen. xii. 1-9 ; xvii. 1-0 ; xviii. 17-19 ; xxii. 10-18 ; xxvi. 1-5 ; 
xxviii. 10-15. 

Introduction : 1. Time and place of the prophecies 221 

2. Messianic character of the prophecies 220 

Text and Commentary 227 

Corollaries : 1. Patriarchal hope 2154 

2. Relation of the patriarchs to the prophecies 234 



Introduction : 1. Time and occasion of the prophecy 237 

2. Character of the prophet 238 

3. Authorship of the prophecy. 239 

4. Unchristian applications of the prophecy 239 

5. Messianic character of Balaam's prophecy 240 

Text and Commentary 244 

Corollary : Prophetic Summary 247 



Section I. The Son of David shall rule forever. II. Kings vii. 1-16; 
I. Par. xvii. 1-17. 

Introduction: 1. History of the prophecy 248 

2. Authorship of the prophecy 248 

3. Messianic character of the prophecy 250 

Text and Commentary 252 

Corollary : Prophetic Summary 255 

Section II. The Son of David is the Prince of Pastors. Jer. xxiii. 
1-8 ; xxxiii. 14-26. 

Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with its context. . . . 255 

2. Jer. xxxiii. 14-26 is parallel to xxiii. 1-8 256 

3. Subject of the prophecy 257 

Text and Commentary 261 



Corollaries: 1. The faithful pastor in the house of David 263 

2. The divine nature of the Messias , 264 

3. The priests, princes, and pastors in a moral sense 264 

Section HI The Messias will spring from the marrow of the high 
cedar. Ezech. xvii. 

Introduction: 1. Time and occasion of the prophecy 265 

2. Division of the prophecy 266 

3. The Messianic character of the passage 266 

Text and Commentary 266 

Corollary: Messianic character of Ezechiel's prophecy 269 

Part II. 



PLACE OP THE MESSIAS' BriiTII. Mich. V. 2-14. 

Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with the preceding 

ones 271 

2. Antichristian explanation of Micheas' prophecy 273 

3. Messianic character of the prophecy 274 

Text and Commentary 275 

Corollaries 280 



Section I. Hie Blessing of Juda. Gen. xlix. 8-12. 
Introduction: 1. Time and occasion of the prophecy 282 

2. Place of the prophecy in the critical analysis of Genesis 283 

3. Messianic character of the prophecy 284 

Text and Commentary 288 

Corollaries: 1. More definite meaning of the prophecy 295 

2. Is the Messias of the tribe of Juda ? 297 

3. What could the Jews understand of this prophecy ? 297 

4. Argument against the present Synagogue 298 

Section II. Daniel's Seventy Weeks. Dan. ix. 22-27. 
Introduction: 1. Time and occasion of the prophecy.. 299 

2. Unchristian explanations of the prophecy 299 

3. Messianic character of the prophecy 299 

Text and Commentary 308 

Corollaries: Chronological agreement between prophecy and 

fulfilment 316 

Section III. The Coming to the Temple. Agg. ii. 1-10. 
Introduction: 1. The historical connection of the prophecy with 

its context , , ... 323 



2. Division of the prophecy 323 

3. Explanations of the prophecy 324 

4. The Messianic nature of Aggeus' prophecy 326 

Text and Commentary 328 

Corollary: 1. The general commotion 330 

2. The desired of the nations 331 

3. The Messianic peace 331 


THE VIRGIN MOTHER. Is. vii. 1-17. 

Introduction: 1. History and occasion of the prophecy 333 

2. Erroneous explanations of the prophecy . 334 

3. Messianic nature of the prophecy 335 

Text and Commentary , 341 

Corollaries: 1. For Christians 350 

2. For nationalists 356 

3. For Jews 356 



Section 1. The Voice in the Desert. Is. xl. 1-11. 

Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with the prophetic 

series of Isaias. . . 358 

2. The Messianic character of the prophecy 359 

3. The topological sense of the passage 360 

Text and Commentary 360 

Corollary 363 

Section II. Elins the Prophet. Mai. iv. 5, 6. 
Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with its context 363 

2. Messianic character of the prophecy 363 

3. The Second Advent 365 

Text and Commentary . . 366 

Corollary 367 

Part III. 



ADORATION OF THE MAGI. Ps. lxxi. 1-17. 

Introduction: 1. Structure of the Psalm 369 

2. Author of the Psalm 369 

3. Subject of the Psalm 370 

Text and Commentary 373 

Corollary ..'/.'..'//.".'.'.. ..!!.*..!!! 376 





Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with its context 378 

2. Time of the prophecy 379 

3. Explanations of Rachel's weeping in Rama 379 

4. Messianic character of the prophecy 381 

Text and Commentary 381 

Corollaries: 1. The literal and the typical sense of the prophecy. 384 

2. The extraordinary manner of Christ's conception 385 



Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with its context 386 

2. Messianic character of the prophecy 386 

Text and Commentary 387 

Corollary 388 

Part IV. 



THE MESSIAS IS THE ORIENT. Zach. Hi. ; vi. 9-15. 

Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecies with their context 389 

2. Messianic character of the prophecies 390 

Text and Commentary 393 

Corollary 397 



Introduction: 1. Division of the prophecy 398 

2. The time of the prophecy 398 

3. Authenticity of the prophecy 403 

4. The prophecy of Daniel has not been taken from Babylonian 

sources 406 

5. Messianic character of Daniel's prophecy 408 

Text and Commentary 411 

Corollary: The Son of Man 425 


THE MESSIAS IS THE SAVIOUR. Is. H. 1-lii. 12 ; lxii. 

Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecies with the context. 428 



2. The Messianic character of these passages 428 

Text and Commentary 430 

Corollary 434 



Mai. ii. 17-iii. 6. 

Introduction: The Messianic character of the prophecy 435 

1. The phrase " My Angel " denotes John the Baptist 435 

2. The Lord is Jehovah himself 436 

3. The Angel of the Testament is the Messias 437 

Text and Commentary .... 438 

Corollaries: 1. The divinity of the Messias 440 

2. His coming to the temple and his purifying the Levites. . . . 440 

3. An argument against the Jews 440 

4. 5. The Eucharistic sacrifice and the two advents 440 



Introduction: 1. Identity of Jehovah's servant 442 

2. Messianic character of the servant of the Lord 443 

3. Antichristian explanations 444 

Text and Commentary 445 

Corollary 448 



Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with its context.. . . 449 

2. Erroneous explanations 449 

3. Messianic character of the prophecy 450 

Text and Commentary 450 

Corollaries: 1. The land of Emmanuel 452 

2. Juda's salvation through Emmanuel 452 



Introduction: 1. Connection of the prophecy with its context 453 

2. Unchristian explanation of the prophecy 453 

3. Messianic character of the prophecy 453 

Text and Commentary 457 

Corollary 458 


Rabbinic literature 459 




A will may be contested on the plea of defective for- 
mality in the written document or of the testator's 
incompetency to dispose of his property in the par- 
ticular manner indicated in the testament. In the contest 
about the validity of God's will and testament, now carried 
on with such earnestness and even bitterness, the plea of in- 
competence cannot claim the slightest weight of probability. 
All that the tribunal of reason can investigate is the signa- 
ture with which God has signed his covenant. This divine 
seal attesting the reality of „God's promises is composed 
of miracles and prophecies. Though the latter are only a 
species of the former, we must for the present limit our 
investigation to this narrower sphere, studying first the 
nature and properties of prophecy in general, and then 
comparing meaning with fulfilment of the particular Mes- 
sianic predictions. 

it. — Before beginning our research proper, it is of the highest 



importance to review briefly what may be called the history 
of the Christian argument from prophecy, and to state its 
strict dialectic form. We cannot do better than open the 
historic outline of the prophetic argument with the words 
of Jesus addressed to his enemies : " Search the scriptures, 
for you think in them to have life everlasting: and the 
same are they that give testimony of me " (Jo. v. 39). On 
another occasion Jesus again appealed to the prophets : 
" It is written in the prophets : and they shall all be taught 
of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and 
hath learned, cometh to me" (Jo. vi. 45). And to show us 
that this argument is intended not only to confound the 
enemies of revelation, but also to strengthen the faith of 
believers, Jesus speaks to the two disciples on the way to 
Emmaus : " foolish and slow of heart to believe in all 
things which the prophets have spoken ! Ought not Christ 
to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory ? 
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded 
to them in all the scriptures the things that were concern- 
ing him" (Luke xxiv. 25-27). 

b. The Apostles use the Argument. — The apostles were 
not slow to learn the use they might make of the prophetic 
writings. St. Peter, addressing his brethren after Jesus' 
ascension into heaven, speaks as follows : " Men brethren, 
the scriptures must needs be fulfilled which the Holy Ghost 
spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who 
was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus ..." (Acts 
i. 16). A few days later, on the feast of Pentecost, the 
same apostle speaks to the assembled multitude : " This is 
that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel : And it 
shall come to pass, in the last days (saith the Lord) I will 
pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your 
daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see 
visions, and your old men shall dream dreams . . ." (Acts ii. 
16 f.). On the same occasion the prince of the apostles 
appeals to a Messianic prophecy as a proof of Jesus' resur- 
rection from the dead: "David saith concerning him: I 


foresaw the Lord before my face always, because he is at my 
right hand that I may not be moved; for this my heart 
hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover 
my flesh also shall rest in hope, because thou wilt not 
leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thy Holy One to see cor- 
ruption " (Acts ii. 25-27). And when Peter and John 
had healed the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, Peter again 
appealed to the prophecies in order to convince his numer- 
ous audience that the Christ must suffer: "Those things 
which God before had showed by the month of all the 
prophets that his Christ should suffer, he hath fulfilled " 
(Acts iii. 18). In the course of his discourse the same 
apostle appeals to Moses' prophecy as a proof that Jesus is 
the Christ : " For Moses said : A prophet shall the Lord 
your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: 
him you shall hear according to all things whatsoever he 
shall speak to you. And it shall be that every soul which 
will not hear the prophet shall be destroyed from among 
the people. And all the prophets from Samuel and after- 
wards, who have spoken, have told of these days " (Acts 
iii. 22-24). This practice St. Peter must have continued 
throughout his apostolical life. In his second epistle (i. 19) 
he insists again on the argument derived from prophecy: 
" And we have the more firm prophetical word, whereunto 
you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark 
place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your 
hearts." Here the prince of the apostles exhorts us to be 
guided by the light of prophecy even to that time when the 
light of glory shall be our lamp. 

e. The Evangelists use it. — The prophetic argument is so 
often urged in the Gospel according to St. Matthew that we 
can here only indicate some of the principal references 
without stating either prophecy or fulfilment fully. Com- 
pare Mat. i. 23 and Is. vii. 14; Mat. ii. G and Mich. v. 2; 
Mat. ii. 15 and Os. xi. 1; Mat. ii. 18 and Jer. xxxi. 15; 
Mat. iii. 3 and Is. xl. 3; Mat. iv. 15 and Is. ix. 1 ; Mat. viii. 
17 and Is. liii. 4; Mat. xi. 5 and Is. xxxv. 5; Mat. xi. 5 and 


Is. lxi. 1; Mat. xi. 10 and Mai. iii. 1; Mat. xi. 14 and Mai. 
iv. 5; Mat. xii. 17 f. and Is. xlii. 1; Mat. xii. 39 and Jon. 
ii. 1; Mat. xiii. 14 and Is. vi. 9; Mat. xiii. 35 and Ps. lxxvii. 
(lxxviii.) 2; Mat. xv. 30 and Is. xxxv. 5; Mat. xvi. 4 and 
Jon. ii. 1; Mat. xxi. 13 and Is. lvi. 7; Mat. xxiv. 15 and 
Dan. ix. 27 ; Mat. xxvi. 24 and Ps. xl. (xii.) 10; Mat. xxvi. 
31 and Zach. xiii. 7; Mat. xxvi. 54 and Is. liii. 10; Mat. 
xxvi. 5G and Lam. iv. 20; Mat. xxvii. 9 and Zach. xi. 12; 
Mat. xxvii. 35 and Ps. xxi. 19. The prophecies of Isaias 
are cited between fifty and sixty times in the New Testa- 
ment, and the Psalms are quoted not less than seventy 
times, and very frequently as being predictive. Ezechiel, 
Abdias, Nahum, and Sophonias seem not to be directly 
appealed to in the New Testament writings; but it must 
be remembered that the " Prophets " are often spoken of 
together (Mat. ii. 23; Acts xiii. 40, xv. 15) as being 

a. The Patristic Use of the Argument. — Still when we 
keep in mind that the argument from prophecy is one of 
the mainstays in the apology for revelation, it may surprise 
us at first sight that it is employed so rarely in the New 
Testament. But the references to the Old Testament 
prophecies are so scarce in the New Testament not from 
any special design, but because the occasions for their use 
were so few. In point of fact, some Messianic prophecies 
of the greatest import have been entirely omitted in the New 
Testament, e.g., Is. ix. 5, G; Jer. xxiii. 5, 6; Zach. vi. 12, 13. 
The epistle of Barnabas (71-120 a. d.) and Justin's dialogue 
against Trypho (d. about 163 A.D.) begin a more extensive 
and systematic discussion of the Messianic jn-edictions. 
Justin's work may be called a missionary production, and 
the author is in so far inferior to his opponent as he is ac- 
quainted with the Old Testament only through the second- 
ary source of the Septuagint. Origen (d. 254 A.D.) was in 
this respect better equipped to meet (in his eighth book) 
Celsus (about 247 a.d.) on the heathen and the Jewish 
misrepresentations of the person of Christ. But his work 


suffered from the arbitrary -allegorization in which the 
Alexandrian school imitated Philo. The historical inter-' 
pretation of the Antiochian school brought about a reaction, 
and Theodore of Antioch, bishop of Mopsuestia, trans- 
gressed in this way the lines of prudence and even of truth 
(d. 428 a.d.). 

e. The progressive Development of Messianic Prophecy. — 
The preparation for the Christian redemption through a 
progressive and connected history in the Old Testament 
seems not to have been noticed till the time of the middle 
ages. The patristic writers appeal to single prophecies or 
state in general terms that the prophetic argument for 
Christianity is a powerful one; but they do not perceive 
the full historic perspective of the Messianic predictions 
(cf. Chrysost., in Jo. horn. xix. n. 2,t. lix. col. 121; horn. 
li. n. 1, col. 283-284; August., deCiv. Dei, 1. xviii. c. 41, n. 
3, t. xli. coL 602). With Cocceius (d. 1GG9) began the 
method of treating the Old Testament in periods. It is to 
Catholic writers that we owe the first deeper insight into 
prophecy. Pascal (Pensees, ed. Molinier, t. ii. p. 11), 
Bossuet (Discours sur l'histoire universelle; lettres sur le 
" shilo," cf. Analecta juris pontificii, 1876, col. 1011 sqq.), 
and Huet (Demonstration evangelique, Paris 1679) have 
given clear proof of their thorough appreciation of proph- 
ecy. Spener and his school greatly advanced the same 
study. They were followed in their endeavors by Abadie 
(Accomplissement des proprieties en Jesus-Christ, La Haye 
1689), Camphausen, S.J. (Passio Jesu Christi adumbrata 
in figuris et prophetiis antiquge legis a SS. PP. et Scripturae 
sacrae interpretibus explicata, Coloniis, 1704), Clarke (Con- 
nexion of Prophecies in the Old Testament and Application 
to Christ, London, 1725), Kidder (Demonstration of the 
Messiah, London, 1726), John Gill (The Prophecies of the 
Old Testament Literally Fulfilled in Jesus, London, 1728), 
Gillies (Essays on the Prophecies relating to the Messiah, 
Edinburgh, 1773), Maclaurin (Essay on the Prophecies re- 
lating to the Messiah, London, 1778), Hales (Dissertations on 


the Principal Prophecies, 2d ed., London, 1802), and Robin- 
'son (Prophecies on the Messiah, London, 1812). Meanwhile 
Schoettgen's Horae Hebraicre et Talmndica3 (vol. ii. de 
Messia, 1742) had appeared, a work of so eminent scholar- 
ship that it scarcely stands in need of any further com- 
mendation. Its only defect, if defect it can be called, con- 
sists in making Christian theologians out of Jewish rabbis. 
/. Why the Argument was Treated so frequently : a. In 
England. — It is not surprising that about this period so 
many treatises on the Prophecies were written; for the 
supernatural character of Christianity had been attacked 
on all sides and in all countries. Grotius (1 583-1 G4G) and 
Spinoza (1G32-1677) had prepared the way for rationalism 
by corrupting the genuine idea of scriptural inspiration. 
Pereyrius, too, minimized the supernatural element in 
Christianity by reducing the miracles to the smallest pos- 
sible number (1594-1G7G). In England it was under the 
fair name of Deism that Christianity was attacked. Her- 
bert Cherbury (De veritate prout distinguitur a revelatione, 
a verishnili, a falso, 1G29), John Toland (Christianity Not 
Mysterious), Tindal (Christianity as Old as Creation, 1740), 
Woolston (On the Miracles of Christ), Collins (On Free 
Thought), Bolingbroke, Chubb, Whiston, Shaftesbury, 
Whittey, Somers, Wharton, Shrewsbury, and Buckingham 
are some of the principal apostles of Deism. It is true 
that on the other hand appeared several direct refuta- 
tions of the above works and writers. Locke (Reasonable 
Christianity, 1G95), Kortholt (De tribus impostoribus mag- 
nis liber, Eduardo Herbert, Thomae Hobbesio, et Bene- 
dicto Spinosae oppositus, 1G80), Browne (Refutation of 
Toland's Christianity Not Mysterious, 1G9G), James Foster 
(Defence of the Usefulness, etc., of the Christian religion 
against Tindal, 1731), John Conybeare (Defence of Revealed 
Religion, in answer to Christianity as Old as Creation, 1 732), 
and Leland (A View of the Principal Deistical AVriters that 
have appeared in England in the Last and Present Century, 
3 vols., 1754-1 75G), uphold the supernatural character of 


Christianity. But it is to be regretted that some of these 
apologetic works have clone more harm than good to their 

(3. In France. — In 172G Voltaire had to take refuge in 
England, where he lived for nearly two years in the society 
of the " Freethinkers." Here he was thoroughly imbued 
with the writings and the views of Boliugbroke, so that his 
own works after his return to France in 1728 took the same 
tone. It is worthy of notice that Voltaire took his difficul- 
ties against the inspired writings and against revealed truth 
in general from the classical commentaries of Calmet. 
This method of copying the learned scholar's objections 
without so much as mentioning their solution, or even the 
source from which they had been taken, is truly worthy of 
the parent of the French Encyclopaedists. 

y. In Germany.— Strauss remarks that in the battle 
against supernatural religion England has prepared the 
arms, France has taught the world how to use them, and 
Germany has been the first to attack the orthodox citadel of 
Sion. The Wolfian philosophy may be said to have pre- 
pared the way for the direct attack by freeing the human 
mind from the strict letter of the Bible (about the middle 
of the eighteenth century). Laur. Schmidt (Bibel von 
Wertheim, 1735) went so far as to translate the Pentateuch 
into the language of the Wolfian philosophy. The critical 
Bible editions of Wetstein (1751) and Griesbach (1779) 
began to shake men's confidence in the inspired text. 
Edelmann (1746) was an advocate of pantheism, and placed 
the origin of the New Testament in the time of Constan- 
tino the Great. Barhdt (1784) makes Jesus the tool or the 
ruler of a secret society. Nicolai indirectly propagates ra- 
tionalism in his "Bibliotheca Germanica Uni versa " (1705- 
1792); and in his "Life and Opinions of Master Sebaldus 
Nothanker " he proposes a model parson, who teaches his 
congregation when to rise in the morning, how to take care 
of their health, how to keep their tools, how to cultivate 
their fields, and other matters of practical importance, 


About this time things had come to such a pass that few 
ministers were willing or able to explain the Gospel to the 
faithful. John Albert Bengel (d. 1752) and Christian 
Augustus Crusius (d. 1775) had modified the idea of in- 
spiration, no longer regarding the prophets as merely pas- 
sive, but also as active instruments of the divine spirit. 
But the climax was reached when Lessing began to publish 
the " Fragments of Wolfenbuttel," the work of his deceased 
friend, Samuel lleimarus (d. 17G8), author of the "Apol- 
ogy for the Eeasonable Worshippers of God." In the 
"Fragments of an Unknown" (1774) tolerance for the 
Deists is inculcated ; in the following publication (1777) 
revelation in general is attacked, and it is shown especially 
that there is no religion in the Old Testament ; finally, the 
third part of the fragments is directed against Jesus and 
his apostles (1778), contending that Jesus mainly intended 
to restore the theocracy; that John the Baptist was his 
accomplice; that the Temple was violated on the first Palm 
Sunday; that Jesus died amid loud complaints and moa?i- 
ings, and that the apostles feigned the resurrection. The 
founders of the Christian religion are thus represented as 
so many deceivers. 

6. In Germany, continued. — The first opponent of Les- 
sing was Gotze. His apology for Christianity excited, how- 
ever, more amusement than conviction. The inspiration 
of scripture, he thought, must be denied, all miracles re- 
jected. Semler (Dec. 18, 1725 —March 14, 1791) was a more 
logical writer. Still, explaining the life of Jesus as a mere 
accommodation to the surrounding circumstances he may, 
perhaps, defend Jesus against the charge of wilful deceit, 
but cannot grant him a higher position than that of a 
teacher of religion and morality. Pan I us (Sept. 1, 1761 — 
Aug. 10, 1851) went a step farther. In his Leben Jesu 
(1828) he explains the miraculous in the gospels as result- 
ing from the subjective impressions of the evangelists. 
Illustrating his view, he appeals to the different impression 
produced on three different observers by the same natural 


phenomenon, — e.g., the Cartesian diver. The physicist sees 
in it the application of a general natural law, the edu- 
cated man admires it as a wonder of nature, but the simple 
workingman feels like reverencing the same fact as a 
miracle transcending all the powers of nature. The apos- 
tles and evangelists were similarly impressed by Jesus' 
words and works. Here, again, Christ's divine character 
is sacrificed for the sake of a scientific hypothesis. Thus 
far the would-be apologists of Christian revelation have 
tried to guard the historical character of the gospels. 
Strauss (Jan. 27, 1808— Feb. 9,1871) did not leave even 
the historical character of truthfulness to the gospel- 
records. In his "Leben Jesu " (1835, 18G4, 1874) the life 
of Christ is explained as a gathering of pious myths, even 
as there are mythical personages in nearly every nation 
and literature. We hardly need to add Baur's system 
(Sept. G, 1809— April 13, 1882), according to which the New 
Testament records are the expressions of two different 
ecclesiastical parties, the Petrine and the Pauline, and of a 
third party endeavoring to reconcile the two. 

e. The Rationalists' Historical Method. — It is natu- 
ral that, in the history of the prophetic interpretation, we 
should have touched on the literature of the life of Christ. 
For, since type and antitype, prediction and fulfilment, are 
essentially correlative terms, the view taken of the one 
necessarily influences the interpretation of the other. Con- 
sequently, we find a series of writers who carry out the 
rationalistic view of prophecy according to a historical 
method. As representatives of this school we may men- 
tion Staelielin (Messianische Weissagungen, Berlin, 1847), 
Anger (Posthumous lectures " Uber die Geschichte der 
Messianischen Idee/' edited by Krenkel, Berlin, 1873), Hit- 
zig (d. 1875 ; " Vorlesungen uber biblische Theologie und 
Messianische Weissagung des Alten Testaments/' edited by 
Kneucher, Karlsruhe, 1880), and above all Kuenen (The 
Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, London, 1877). The 
latter dismisses, on principle, all that is supernatural, and 


regards ethical monotheism as the kernel and the soul 
of all prophecy. Dulim (Theologie der Propheten, Bonn, 
1875) starts with the hypothesis that the Old Testament 
literary prophets belong to an earlier age than the Mosaic 
Law, and that in the writing of every prophet there is a 
special system of teaching by means of which he hinders 
or helps the progress to greater freedom in religious 
matters. Duhm thus combines Wellhausen's theory of the 
Old Testament literature with Baur's typical principle 
applied in the New Testament. 

C. Christian Apologies.— Hengstenberg's (d. 18G9) 
" Christologie des Alten Testaments" (Berlin, 1829-1835, 
3 vols.; 2d ed. 1854-1857) formed a new epoch in the 
treatment of the Messianic prophecies from a Christian 
point of view. Cunningham in his " Remarks " had de- 
fended the Christian standpoint against the Jewish view 
set forth in David Levi's "Dissertations on the Prophecies 
in the Old Testament" (1793-1796, London; cf. Salvador, 
Ilistoire des institutions de Moi'se et du peuple hebreu, 
Paris, 1828). But Hengstenberg defended Christianity 
against the latest attacks of critical rationalism. Hofmann's 
(d. 1877) work entitled " Weissagung und Erfi'illung" 
(Nordlingen, 1841-1844, in two parts) is a proper compan- 
ion piece to Hengstenberg's Christology. The work recon- 
structs the entire Old Testament account historically and 
exegetically as an organic whole. Bertheau in his lengthy 
article " Die alttestamentliche Weissagung von Israel's 
Reichsherrlichkeit in seinem Lande " (Jahrbiicher fur 
deutsche Theologie, vol. iv., Gotha, 1859) endeavors to 
separate the present idea of the fulfilment from the par- 
ticular national form. Hilgenfeld (Die Jiklische Apo- 
kalyptik in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwickelung, 1857) 
reviews the development of the Messianic idea among the 
Jewish people. Reinke's " Messianische Weissagungen bei 
den grossen und kleinen Propheten des alten Testaments" 
(Minister, 1859) is a classical Catholic treatise on the sub- 
ject. Meignan's "Les propheties messianiques de l'Ancien 


Testament" (Paris, 185G), de la Luzerne's "Dissertations 
sur les Propheties," de Pompignan's "PIncredulite con- 
vaincue par les Propheties/' Jacquelot's " Traite de la verite 
et de ^inspiration de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Testament" 
deserve careful attention. 

?/. Less Conservative Apologies. — Tholuch (d. 1877), 
in bis " Propheten und ihre Weissagungen " (Gotha, 18G0), 
and Gustau Baur in his " Geschichte der alt testament- 
lichen Weissagung" (Theil 1, 18G1), follow Hengstenberg, 
only in a spirit of freer criticism. Older (d. 1872) in his 
articles "Messias" and "Weissagung" (Ilerzog's R. E., 1st 
ed., vol. ix. Stuttgart, 1858; vol. xvii. Gotha, 18G3), and 
in his posthumous " Theology of the Old Testament" (1st 
ed., Tubingen 1873-1874 ; 2d ed., 1882-1885), has tried a 
compromise between conservatism and headlong ration- 
alism. DiesteVs " Geschichte des alten Testaments in der 
christlichen Kirche " (Jena, 1869), Kiiper's "Das Prophet- 
entluim des alten Bundes ubersichtlicli dargestellt " 
(Leipzig, 1870), and CastelWs "111 Messia secondo gli 
Ebrei" (Florence, 1784), must be mentioned at this period. 
Riehm (d. 1888), in his work " Die Messianische Weissa- 
gung" (Gotha, 1875; English translation by L. A. Muir- 
head, Edinburgh, 1891), inquires into the origin, the his- 
torical character, and the fulfilment of prophecy, but fails 
to do justice to the literal meaning of the several predic- 
tions. Drummond (The Jewish Messiah, 1877) is still 
perhaps the main English authority on his own view of 
this subject; Gloag (The Messianic Prophecies, Baird Lec- 
ture for 1879), deserves a careful reading. Eduard Kuniffs 
work, " Der Offenbarungsbegriff des alten Testaments" 
(Leipzig, 1882), defends the supernatural character of the 
Old Testament prophecy. We must not omit A. Eders- 
lieim's reprint of his Warburton Lectures for the years 
1880-1884, which he collected in a volume entitled 
" Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah " (New 
York, 1885). Here is the place to mention Orelli's Old 
Testament Prophecy of the Consummation of God's King- 


dom (Clark's translation), Stanton's " The Jewish and 
Christian Messiah, a study in the earliest history of Chris- 
tianity," Scott's " Historical Development of the Messianic 
Idea" (Old Testament Student, 1888, 17G-180), and Rein- 
hard's " Der AVelterloser im alten Testament" (1888). 
Brigg's " Messianic Prophecy " aims at complete exegeti- 
cal treatment of Messianic passages (Edinburgh and New 
York, 188G). C. Elliott's " Old Testament Prophecy" (New 
York, 1889) professes to explain the nature of prophecy, 
its organic connection with Old Testament history, and 
its New Testament fulfilment. Delitzsch published his 
" Messianische AVeissagungen in geschichtlicher Folge" at 
Leipzig (Faber, 1890); the work is translated into English 
by Prof. Curtis (New York, 1891). Baldensperger's 
" Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Lichte der Messianischen 
Iloffnuugen seiner Zeit" (Strassburg, 1888; 2d ed., Strass- 
burg, 1892) deserves also a careful study, though, like most 
works of Protestant authors, it is tainted with several ra- 
tionalistic ideas. 

#. Works which deal Partially with the Prophe- 
cies. — We might extend this list of authors indefinitely 
were we to enumerate all the works which deal in part 
with our subject, or with some aspect of it. Still, a few 
must be noticed here on account of their importance and 
the frequent use we shall have to make of them. Such are: 
D iister w aid's " Die Weltreiche und das Gottesreich nach 
den AVeissagungen des Propheten Daniel " (Freiburg, 1890) ; 
Edersheim's " The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," 
book ii., c. v. ; Schilrer's " Geschichte des Jiidischen Volkes 
im Zeitalter Jesu" (Engl, transl. Edinburgh, 1890) ; and 
Keim's " Life of Jesus of Nazara'' (Engl, transl. vol. i. pp. 
314-327 ; vol. iv. pp. 25G-343 ; vol. vi. pp. 384 to end). 
Nearly complete bibliographical lists will be found in several 
of the works already referred to. 

2. Dialectic Form of the Prophecy argument.— Thus 
far we have considered the history of the Christian argument 
from prophecy ; we must next state the argument itself 


in its strict dialectic form. It may be worded as follows: 
God cannot testify to what is false. But God has by means 
of the Messianic prophecies testified to the divinity and the 
divine mission of Jesus. Consequently Jesus had a divine 
mission and nature (Diction, de la theolog. cath. de Wetzer 
et Welte, trad, franc, de Goschler. t. xix? pp. 201 ff.; Perrone, 
Praelect. theologies, ed. Migne, t. i. col. 74 f.). 

Without insisting for the present on the further conclu- 
sion that the Christian religion and revelation are of a 
divine origin and necessarily truthful, we turn our attention 
to the force of the argument itself. If the premises are 
correct, the conclusion follows beyond all reasonable doubt. 
The first two statements then deserve a more minute exami- 

a. Major Premise. — In the first, or the major, premise our 
attention is drawn to the conditions which are necessarily 
presupposed in the prophecy argument. The existence of 
God, his essential attributes, and the first principles of 
morality are supposed to be known by the light of reason. 
A number of recent writers have stated this fact very 
clearly and forcibly. Mill says in his Logic (ii. p. 1G8) : 
" If we do not already believe in supernatural agencies, no 
miracle can prove to us their existence. The miracle itself, 
considered merely as an extraordinary fact, may be satis- 
factorily certified by our senses or by testimony, but nothing 
can ever prove that it is a miracle; there is still another 
possible hypothesis — that of its being the result of some 
unknown natural cause; and this possibility cannot be so 
completely shut out as to leave no alternative but that of 
admitting the existence and intervention of a being superior 
to nature." Paley, in his Introduction to the " Evidences," 
uses the following expression: "The effect we ascribe 
simply to the volition of the Deity, of whose existence and 
power, not to say of whose presence and agency, we have 
previous and independent proof. ... In a word, once believe 
that there is a God, and miracles are not incredible." 
Mozley again and again repeats this same truth in his 


Lectures on Miracles: "Unless a man brings the belief in 
God to a miracle," lie says in the fifth lecture, " he does 
not get it from the miracle." Prof. W. Lee, in his Essay 
on Miracles, substantially agrees with the above authors: 
" The Christian argument for miracles takes for granted 
two elementary truth*— the omnipotence and the personality 
of God." The Rev. L. Davies, in his " Signs of the Kingdom 
of Heaven" (p. 35) maintains: "The miracle of miracles 
must be the existence of a living God. If we do not believe 
this, it is impossible that any smaller miracles should prove 
it to us." We may conclude with the words of Westcott, 
taken from his Gospel of the Resurrection (p. 45): "For 
physical students as such, and for those who take their 
impressions of the universe solely from them, miracles can 
have no real existence." 

It must be kept in mind all through that we do not 
mean to say that God's existence might not be proved from 
a miraculous fact, viewed as a contingent or as a changeable 
being; but we merely contend that the recognition of a 
miracle as such presupposes the acknowledgment of a 
personal God. And the existence of God once granted, it 
is easily shown that he cannot testify to a falsehood. 

b. Minor Premise. — The second or minor premise of our 
prophecy-argument calls for a more lengthy explanation. It 
maintains that God by means of the Messianic prophecies has 
testified to the divinity and the divine mission of Jesus. 
Three distinct statements are evidently contained in this 
sentence: (1) There have been real Messianic predictions; 
(2) these Messianic predictions are true prophecies; (3) 
they were employed by God in confirmation of Jesus's 
divine mission and nature. 

a. Historical Truth of th£ Prophecies. — The main 
difficulties ursed against the existence of real Messianic 
predictions may be reduced to two heads: (a) Christians 
may have read into the Old Testament predictions which 
were not really contained in it; (b) Christians may have 
inserted into the life of Christ fulfilments which have no 


existence in history. The second exception is equivalent 
to a denial of the authenticity and truthfulness of the 
gospel records, facts proved in the introduction to the 
New Testament canon. Additional data for answering 
the difficulty will be found among the apocalyptic and the 
Rabbinic productions, which we shall have to refer to in 
answering the first exception. 

1. The Old Testament Books precede the New Testament. 
— Supposing then the New Testament canon established, 
and therefore the facts of Christ's life proved, we must show 
that the Old Testament prophecies of the Messias cannot 
be Christian fiction. This will appear in the first place all 
through the course of Messianic prophecies, since they will 
be recognized as genuine part and parcel of the several Old 
Testament books, whose canonicity is proved beyond all 
reasonable doubt. For even supposing that the date of some 
parts of the Old Testament is much more recent than has 
been believed, a supposition which we make only for argu- 
ment's sake, it is still certain that the literature in question 
originated before the birth of Christ, so that our statement 
regarding the existence of Messianic predictions remains in 

2. Sibylline Oracles. — But since it is considered incum- 
bent on the scientific theologian of our day to prove his 
thesis not merely from scriptural but also from profane 
sources, if such a proof is possible, we too shall indicate 
certain early books and writings, though partly fragmen- 
tary, which bear evidence to the existence of Messianic 
predictions before and at the time of the birth of Jesus. 
Here belongs, in the first place, the greatest part of the 
third book (v. 97-807) of the Sibylline oracles, because 
after Bleek's time most cities maintain that they have 
been written by a Greek-Alexandrian Jew, and constitute 
the most ancient part of the whole collection. Reuss 
(Herzog's R. E. p. 184 ff., article Sibyllen) and Hilgenfeld 
contend that they were written about 137, and others place 
them later still. But for our purpose the exact year of their 


composition is a matter of indifference. It must be noted 
that the value of this source is somewhat lessened, because 
it is not universally admitted that before the time of Christ 
the Alexandrian schools exercised a great influence on the 

3. Book of Enoch. — Of the greatest importance in the 
present question is the Book of Enoch. It purports to have 
been written by the patriarch Enoch, and is quoted in the 
Epistle of Jude (14, 15). Though several Fathers use it as 
the genuine production of its reputed author, and as con- 
taining authentic divine revelations, it has never been 
recognized by the Church as canonical (cf. article Enoch 
in Smith's Bible Dictionary). The Byzantine chronicler 
George Syncellus (about 800 a.d.) still quotes two long 
passages from the book; after that period it is lost sight of, 
till in the course of the last century the discovery was made 
that an Ethiopic version was extant in the Abyssinian 
Church. In the year 1773, Bruce, the Scottish traveller, 
brought three manuscripts of it to Europe. But it was not 
till the year 1821 that the whole work was given to the 
world through the English translation of Laurence. A 
German translation was made by Hofmann, which from 
chapter i. to based upon the English version of Laurence 
(1833), and from chapter lvi. to the end on the Ethiopic 
version collated with a new manuscript (1838). The Ethi- 
opic text was published by Laurence in 1838, and subse- 
quently by Dillmann in 1851; the latter has been collated 
with five manuscripts. Dillmann also issued a new German 
translation in 1853 with emendations so important that all 
disquisitions connected with the Book of Enoch have been 
based on it. The hope that new light would be thrown on 
the subject by a small Greek fragment (lxxxix. 42-49) 
published in facsimile by Card. Mai from a Cod. Vatic. 
(cod. gr. 1809) and deciphered by Gildmeister, was doomed 
to disappointment, since the Codex contained nothing more 
of the Book of Enoch. New Greek Enoch fragments were 
discovered in the winter of 188G-87, in the Christian burial 


city of Akhmim, in Upper Egypt. They were published in 
the Memoires publies par les membres de la mission archeo- 
logique francaise au Caire sous la direction de M. N. 
Bonriant (tome ix me I er fascicule; Paris, Ernest Leroux, 
1892; II. 147, lexicon size). 

a. Division of the Book of Enoch. — The book maybe 
divided into the following parts : 1. Chapters i.-v. contain 
the introduction to the whole. 2. Chapters vi.-xi. give an 
account of the fall of the angels. 3. Chapters xii.-xvi. 
tell how Enoch is commissioned to announce to the angels 
the coming judgment. 4. Chapters xvii.-xxxvi. describe 
how Enoch is carried over mountains, seas, and rivers, and 
how he was shown the mysteries of nature, the ends of the 
earth, the place of the fallen spirits, the dwellings of the 
departed souls, both just and unjust, the tree of life, etc. 
5. Chapters xxxvii.-lxxi. contain three allegories, a. The 
first allegory, embracing chapters xxxvii.-xliv., describes 
Enoch's vision of the abode of the righteous and the saints; 
Enoch also sees the myriads of spirits standing before the 
throne of the Most High, the four angels Michael, Raphael, 
Gabriel and Phanuel, the receptacles wherein the sun, the 
moon, and the winds are kept, the lightning and the stars 
of heaven, all of which have their own special name. b. 
In the second allegory, containing chapters xlv.-lvii., Enoch 
is informed regarding the "Chosen One/' "the Son of 
Man " — i.e., the Messias. The patriarch learns the Messias' 
nature and mission, and how he is to judge the world and 
establish his kingdom, c. The third allegory, consisting of 
chapters lviii.-lxix., treats of the blessedness of the right- 
eous and the just, of the mysteries of thunder and light- 
ning, of the day on which the " Chosen One," " the Son 
of Man," shall judge the world, d. Chapters Ixx. and 
lxxi. contain the conclusion of the three allegories. 6. 
Chapters lxxii.-lxxxii. form the astronomical book, giving 
us all the astronomical information Enoch had obtained 
from the angel Uriel. 7, Chapters Ixxxiii.-xc. contain two 
visions: a. Chapters lxxxiii. and lxxxiv. describe the vision 


of the flood, where Enoch prays God not to destroy the 
whole human family, b. Chapters Lxxxv.-xc. narrate the 
vision of the cattle, sheep, wild beasts, and shepherds, sym- 
bolizing the whole history of Israel down to the Messianic 
times. 8. In chapter xci. Enoch exhorts his children to 
lead a pious life. 9. Chapter xcii. forms the introduction 
to the next section. 10. In chapters xciii. and xciv. 12-17 
Enoch enlightens us concerning the world-weeks. 11. 
Chapters xciv.-cv. contain woes against the wicked and the 
ungodly, and hold out joyful expectations to the just. 12. 
Chapters cvi. and cvii. describe the birth of Noe and pre- 
dict the flood. 13. Chapter cviii. informs us regarding the 
fire of hell, to which the souls of the wicked and the blas- 
pheming are consigned. 

b. Author of the Book of Enoch. — A few words must be 
added about the author of the book of Enoch and the 
probable time of its composition. 1. J. C. K. von Ilof- 
mann, Weisse, and Philippi contend, chiefly for dogmatic 
reasons, that the whole book is of Christian origin. There 
is scarcely any recent author who believes the work to 
belong to one author. 2. Even Dillmann, who in his trans- 
lation and explanation still assumed a substantial unity of 
authorship, has now abandoned his position, in spite of 
Wittichen's almost entire agreement with his opinion. 3. 
In the case of the allegories especially, it is now almost 
universally admitted that they must be ascribed to an 
author distinct from the writer of the other portions 
(Krieger, Liicke, 2d ed., Ewald, Dillmann latterly, Kostlin, 
Hilgenfeld, Langen, Sieffert, Ileuss, Volkmar). 

c. Time of Composition of the Book of Enoch. — In order 
to determine the period of its composition, we shall divide 
the book into the sections ascribed to the same authors: 

A. The original writing consists of chapters i.-xxxvi. and 
lxxii.-cv., abstracting from a number of more or less 
extensive interpolations. Volkmar ascribes it to one of 
Akiba's disciples in the time of Barcocheba. But most 
authors agree in assigning this portion to the second cen- 


tury B.C., either to the earlier years of the Machabean period 
(Krieger, Li'icke, 2d. ed., Langen), or to the days of John 
llyrcanus (Ewald, Dillmann, Kostlin, Sieffert, Iteuss, Wit- 
tichen), or even to the days of Alexander Janngeus (Ilil- 

B. In regard to the most important section containing 
the allegories, chapters xxxvi.-lxxi., opinion fluctuates 
most of all. Here Hilgenfeld, Volkmar, and Col an i agree 
with Hofmann, Weisse, and Philippi in ascribing this part 
to a Christian author. Hilgenfeld even believes that the 
writer must have been of the Gnostic sect. The other 
critics refer the same portion to a pre-Christian period : 
Langen to the earlier days of the Machabean time; Ewald 
to about 144 B.C. ; Kostlin, Sieffert, and Dillmann (Herzog's 
K. E., 2d ed., xii. 351 if.) to some date previous to 64 B.C.; 
Krieger and Li'icke to the early part of Herod's reign; 
Reuss refrains from suggesting any date at all. 

But the main question is: Are the allegories of pre- 
Christian or of Christian origin ? If they date from Chris- 
tian times, the author must be a Christian. A Jew could 
not have written the allegories, knowing that he was giving 
weapons into the hands of the Christians. But, on the 
other hand, a Christian writer would have hardly avoided 
so carefully all allusion to the history of Jesus. Why 
should a Christian speak only of the coming of the Messias 
in glory, of his judging the world, without the slightest 
indication of his first appearance in a state of humiliation 
and suffering ? Surely, this was not an efficient method 
of gaining souls over to the religion of Christ. The argu- 
ment of our opponents, based upon the circumstance that 
according to Matthew xvi. 13-16 and John xii. 34, the 
expression "Son of Man" was not a common Messianic 
title at the time of Jesus, whereas it is of frequent occur- 
rence in this sense in the allegories, is without force. For 
we are by no means at liberty to infer from those passages 
that the expression " Son of Man " was not at that time a 
usual Messianic title. In the case of John (1. c), this 


inference is based simply upon false exegesis. The pas- 
sage in Matthew is much weakened by the circumstance 
that in another form preserved in Mark viii. 27, which is 
parallel to Luke ix. 18, the expression " Son of Man " does 
not occur at all (cf. Edersheim, " The Life and Times of 
Jesus the Messiah/' ii. p. 80, 5th ed., New York). 

C. The Noachian portions of the book of Enoch have 
been sufficiently proved by the investigations of Dillmann, 
Ewald and Kostlin to be identical with the passages liv. 7 — 
lv. 2, lx. G5 — lxix. 25; lxviii. l,and probably also with chap- 
ters cvi., cvii., and cviii. These portions are called Noa- 
chian, partly because they treat of Noe's time, and partly 
because they purport to have been written by him. It is 
impossible to determine the exact date at which these pas- 
sages were composed. Since our present Ethiopic version 
of the book of Enoch has been made from the Greek, it 
may be asked whether it was originally written in Greek, 
or rather in Hebrew or Aramaic. Volkmar and Philippi 
contend that the original language was Greek, while all the 
other scholars assume the Hebrew or the Aramaic as the 
original language. (Cf. Schi'irer, " History of the Jewish 
People in the Time of Jesus Christ," d. ii. v. iii. p. 54 If.; 
Baldensperger, Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Lichte der 
Messianischen Hoffnungen seiner Zeit, 2d ed., 1892.) 

4. The Booh of Jubilees. — Didymus Alexandrinus, 
Epiphanius, and St. Jerome quote an apocryphal book under 
the title rot 'Igd(3)]\(xicx, or ?} Xenri) Fevecns, from which 
they borrow various details connected with the history of 
the patriarchs. Copious extracts from the same work are 
given by the Byzantine chroniclers Syncellus, Cedrenus, 
Zonoras, Glycas, from the beginning of the ninth down to 
the twelfth century. After the twelfth century the book 
disappeared from notice, and it was considered as lost till 
it was in the present century discovered in an Ethiopic 
version in the Abyssinian Church. Dillmann published it 
for the first time in a German translation (1850-1851), and 
afterwards in its Ethiopic version (1859). Ceriani found 


in the Ambrosian Library at Milan a large fragment of the 
work in an old Latin version, which he published in the 
*' Monumenta sacra et profana" (vol. i. fasc. i., 1861). Sub- 
sequently Ronsch edited the same fragment accompanied 
by Dillmann's Latin rendering of the corresponding 
Ethiopic portion of the work, by a commentary and several 
" Excursus" full of most valuable material (1874). As to 
the date of the work's composition, Dillmaun, Hilgenfeld, 
Langen, lloltzmann, and Schiirer assign it to the first cen- 
tury a.d., before the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. 
Noldeke refers the work to the last century before Christ; 
Ronsch to the sixth decade B.C. It is not so much the 
Messianic erudition contained in the work that interests 
us as its direct testimony for the existence of the book of 
Enoch, and the light it throws on the pious Jewish view 
of the world at the beginning of the Christian era (Balden- 
sperger, 1. c, pp. 20 ft'.; Schiirer, 1. c, pp. 134 ft.). 

5. The Psalms of Solomon. — In several Christian Old 
Testament canons the Psalms of Solomon are included at 
times under the heading " Antilegomena," and again under 
that of " Apokrypha." These psalms, amounting to eighteen 
in number, were first printed from an Augsburg manu- 
script by dela Cerda (1626), and subsequently by Fabricius 
(1713), while in our own time Hilgenfeld has published an 
edition, collated with a Vienna manuscript, and this has 
been made the basis of the editions issued by Geiger, 
Fritzsche, and Pick. The principal subject of the psalms is 
the misery of the Jewish nation, and its desire of freedom 
and redemption through the mediation of the Messias. 
It is only by later transcribers that they have been attrib- 
uted to Solomon. The work itself betrays, according to 
the critics, very distinct traces of a later origin. Ewald, 
Grimm, Ohler, Dillmann (formerly), Weiifenbach, and An- 
ger assign the psalms to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes; 
Movers, Delitzsch, and Keim prefer the time of Herod; but 
Langen, Hilgenfeld, Geiger, Carriere, Wellhausen, Reuss, 
Dillmann (now), Noldeke, Hausrath, Fritzsche, and Wit- 


tichen agree with most others that the origin of the psalms 
must be placed after Pompey's conquest of Jerusalem, about 
the year G3 B.C. (cf. Schurer, 1. c. pp. 17 ft'.; Comely, In- 
troductio in U. T., vol. i. p. 205; Baldensperger, 1. c. pp. 
25 ft.). 

6. TJw "Ascensio Mosis." — According to a passage in 
Origen (De princip. iii. 2. 1) the fact referred to in the 
epistle of Jude (v. 9) regarding a dispute between the arch- 
angel Michael and Satan about the body of Moses lias been 
taken from an apocryphal book entitled the " Ascensio Mo- 
sis." Some little information regarding this AraX?]7Taiz 
MGovaeooS has also been gleaned from quotations found in 
the Fathers and in subsequent writers. But a large portion 
of the work in an old Latin version was only recently dis- 
covered by Ceriani in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, 
where it had been concealed for ages, and published by the 
same scholar in the Monumenta (1861). The work has 
since then been edited by Hilgenfeld (18GG), Volkmar (in 
Latin and German, 1867), Schmidt and Merx (1868), and 
Fritzsche (1871). The critics differ considerably about the 
date of its composition: Ewald, AVieseler, Drummond, and 
Dillmann refer it to the first decade after Herod's death, 
Hilgenfeld to the year 44-45 a.d., Schmidt and Merx to 
the time between 54 and 64 a.d., Fritzsche and Lucius to 
the sixth decade of the first century a.d., Langen to the 
time after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, Hausrath 
to the reign of Domitian, Philippi to the second century of 
our era, Volkmar to the year 137-138 a.d., while Schurer 
agrees with Ewald and those who adhere to his opinion. 
The peculiar Messianic ideas of the "Ascensio" will appear 
clearly throughout the course of this work (cf. Schurer, 
1. c, pp. 73 ft. ; Comely, 1. c, p. 209 ; Baldensperger, 1. c, 
pp. 27 ff.). 

7. The Revelation of Baruch. — The larger Peshito man- 
uscript of Milan contains also a revelation of Baruch, re- 
garding which there exists no reliable information. A small 
portion of it, chapters lxxviii.-lxxxvi., has been otherwise 


transmitted to us, and is printed in the Paris and the London 
Polyglots. Ceriani first published a Latin version of the 
book (18GG), and subsequently published the Syriac text, 
first in ordinary type (1871), then in a photolithographed 
facsimile (1883). Fritzsche embodied Ceriani's Latin ver- 
sion in his edition of the Apocrypha, introducing how- 
ever a few emendations (1871). The prediction of the 
Anointed is very clear and precise. As to the date of the 
composition of the book it seems to be certain that it was 
not written before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; 
but it is impossible to determine whether it was written 
shortly after the destruction (Hilgenfeld, Fritzsche, Drum- 
mond), or during the reign of Domitian (Ewald), or in the 
time of Trajan (Langen, Wieseler, Renan, Dillmann). 
Schiirer thinks it most probable that the book was com- 
posed not long after the destruction of the Holy City, when 
the question, How could God permit such a disaster ? was 
still a burning one, and in his opinion the work is, at any 
rate, older than the time of Papias (cf. Schiirer, 1. c, pp. 
83 ff.; Baldensperger, 1. c, pp. 37 ff.). 

8. The Fourth Book of Esdras. — In the appendix of the 
Latin Vulgate we find among other apocryphal works the 
so-called Fourth Book of Esdras. Several Greek and Latin 
Fathers regard the work as genuine prophecy. The fact 
that it has been translated into Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, 
and Armenian proves its extensive circulation in the East. 
All' the five versions which we now possess are directly or 
indirectly taken from a Greek text, now no longer extant, 
but which must be regarded as the original text. The text 
of the Latin Vulgate consists of sixteen chapters, the first 
and the last two of which do not appear in the oriental 
versions, and are, therefore commonly looked upon as ad- 
ditions by a Christian hand. In its original form, then, the 
book consists only of chapters iii.-xiv. The coming of the 
Anointed One is clearly foretold in vii. 26-35. Corrodi 
and Ewald refer the composition of the book to the time of 
Titus; Volkmar, Langen, Hausrath and Renan to the time 


of Nerva; Gfrorer, Dillmann, Wieseler, Reuss, and Schurer 
to tlie reign of Domitian. Kabisch (Das 4te. Buch Esra, 
1889) has of late made an earnest attempt to divide the 
book according to its various sources, one of which he refers 
to 100 a.d., the other to 30 B.C. But Baldensperger justly 
rejects Kabisch's analysis (Baldensperger, 1. c, p. 38; 
Schurer, 1, c, pp. 93 If.; Edersheim, "Jesus the Messiah," 
vol. ii. pp. 655 ff.). 

9. Talmudic and Rabbinic Sources. — A word must be 
added about the vast source-material aggregated in the 
Talmud and the various Midrashim. Though we must not 
overestimate the value of these sources, we cannot on the 
other hand simply ignore them. Too many efforts have of 
late been made in cultivating this field, which had so long 
remained fallow, to admit of entire silence about them. 
Wellhau sen's remark that the Talmud is only of secondary 
importance as a source for the historical condition of the 
pre-Talmudic Jewish people is no doubt correct; but far 
different is the judgment that must be pronounced about 
the ideas contained in the Talmud. For most of the views 
expressed by the Talmudic writers date back to the time of 
Christ, or even to an earlier period. If Ave then apply our- 
selves with proper care to these writings, we shall be able to 
gather from them a great amount of reliable material (cf. 
Baldensperger, 1. c, pp. 43 ff. ; Edersheim, 1. c. vol. ii. pp. 
659 ff. ; Appendix 1 of the present vol.). 

Revieiv of the Historical Truth of the Prophecies. — Thus 
far we have given the sources from which it may be proved 
that there really existed Messianic predictions. Our op- 
ponents were those who contend that the predictions which 
we now consider as Messianic prophecies were applied to 
Jesus in a false and artificial sense, without really referring 
to him. Thus Christians are accused of manufacturing 
prophecies by reading into the Old Testament meanings that 
do not really exist in it. Greg in his " Creed of Christen- 
dom" (3d ed., p. 85) expresses the difficulty thus: "The 
argument would have the force which is attributed to it, 


were the objectors able to lay their finger on a single Old 
Testament prediction clearly referring to Jesus Christ, in- 
tended by the utterers of it to relate to him, prefiguring 
his character and career, and manifestly fulfilled in his 
appearance on earth. This they cannot do." Dr. David- 
son pronounces it as " now commonly admitted that the 
essential part of biblical prophecy does not lie in predict- 
ing contingent events, but in divining the essentially re- 
ligious in the course of history. ... In no prophecy can it 
be shown that the literal predicting of distant historical 
events is contained. . . . In conformity with the analogy of 
prophecy generally, special predictions concerning Christ 
do not appear in the Old Testament " (cf. Smith, " Diction- 
ary of the Bible," ii. p. 932, note i.). 

/?. Philosophical Truth of the Prophecies. — Prop- 
erly explained, Greg's and Davidson's observations may be 
understood to impugn the second statement implied in the 
minor premise of our argument — i.e., the contention that the 
Messianic predictions which existed before the time of Jesus 
are real prophecies. It is true that in order to have a real 
prophecy certain conditions must be verified regarding both 
prediction and fulfilment. The prediction must precede 
the event in time, be intelligible and definite in its terms, 
and foretell something which at the time of its utterance 
lay beyond the ability of merely human sagacity to foresee. 
As to the fulfilment, it must be a historically certain event, 
undoubtedly posterior to the prediction, and accurately 
correspond with it in terms. It must also be above the 
suspicion of having been brought about by human means 
for the purpose of forming an apparent accomplishment of 
the prediction. These are the essential conditions without 
the verification of which no real prophecy exists. They 
may be strengthened by the following accidental notes: 
The prediction may be part of a connected system of 
prophecies, it may describe the special coloring and the 
detailed particulars of the event, and it may finally have a 


special supernatural purpose rendering it antecedently 
probable that God is its author. 

1. Definiteness of the Predictions. — The priority of Mes- 
sianic prediction to fulfilment has been established in the 
preceding paragraphs. As to the definite meaning con- 
veyed by the Messianic prophecies, the Old Testament leaves 
us no ground to call it in question. We need only glance 
over the description of the Messias, his nature, properties, 
and mission, as laid down in the writings of the prophets, 
to be convinced of the wrong position of those scholars who 
refuse to admit the prophecy-argument for this reason. 
Nor can it be said that the fulfilment of the Messianic pre- 
dictions was brought about by human means, so as to render 
the existing predictions apparent grounds for Jesus' real 
Messiasship. For by human means no one can predeter- 
mine the place and the circumstances of his birth, by 
merely human means no one works miracles, heals the sick, 
raises the dead, and feeds thousands of people with five 
loaves of bread; for merely natural ends no one gives him- 
self up to be scourged, to be condemned to death, and to 
die on the cross; and, finally, by no human means can any 
one rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. 

2. Agreement between Prediction and Fulfilment. — As 
to the exact correspondence of fulfilment and predictions, 
we must content ourselves for the present with pointing to 
the treatise on the particular prophecies, where it will appear 
that a more minute and accurate description of certain 
portions of Christ's life could have hardly been given by an 
eye-witness (cf. Rev. B. Maitland, " The Argument from 
Prophecy," 2d ed., London, 1886, pp. 31 fT.). And the sup- 
position that all these particulars should have been fore- 
told by merely human sagacity is so improbable that it has 
not been suggested even by the most bitter enemies of the 
Christian revelation (cf. Kuenen's view as explained in 
Tlie New World, March 1892, p. 816; see pp. 43 if. of the 
present vol.). 

3. Tliree Exceptions. — Waiving for the present the 


other exceptions which are at times made to this part of 
the argument (St. Thorn., Sumrm Theol., II. a ii. ae q. 172; 
Libermann, Theologia; Nicolas, Etudes philos. sur le Chris- 
tianisme; Passaglia, Conferences, pp. 165 fL; Brugere, De 
vera religione; La Luzerne, Dissertation sur les pro- 
prieties, Paris, 1825, t. 1), we must consider three that can 
hardly be answered in the course of the treatise. Certain 
authors, then, impugn the principle that from the fact of 
an event being predicted it can be inferred that we have to 
deal with a true prophecy — or, in other words, that God has 
inspired the utterer of the prediction in question. There 
are at least three other ways in which such a fact can be 
explained. First, the supposed prophet may have foretold 
the future by mere chance; secondly, the prediction may 
have been suggested by an evil spirit; thirdly, it may be 
a merely natural phenomenon. 

a. First Exception. — The first explanation is rendered 
still more probable by our experiencing in excitable per- 
sons a remarkable spirit of mysterious presentiment. And 
if external circumstances, be they motives of self-love or of 
patriotism, inflame in such a person an ardent desire of a 
certain event, what wonder that he utters predictions of 
what he most ardently wishes for ? 

Answer. — We do not deny the possibility of any one's 
foretelling by mere chance an entirely unexpected event 
which afterwards really comes to pass. Nor do we deny 
the greater probability of such a prediction when the 
event is ardently desired. But if the predictions include 
a number of the most minute particulars that are not at 
all necessarily connected with the event, the probability of 
a prediction by mere chance becomes very small. And 
again, if many of the particulars are in themselves very 
unlikely to happen, and go entirely against the prophet's 
natural desires, a mere chance prediction of such an event 
with all its details has no claim to any probability at all. 
And finally, if the details are not only unwished for, but 
bring misfortune on the prophet's family and nation, make 


reprobates of all the prophet's friends and acquaintances, 
if the details regard not only a single event but a series of 
events, in fact a man's whole lifetime, and the failure and 
success of his life-work, if there is question not of a single 
prophet but of a series of different prophets living more or 
less at random at the various epochs of a whole millon- 
nium, and still predicting the incidents of a man's life in 
such a way that all the prophecies are fully consistent with 
each other and form one organic whole, — supposing all this, 
the explanation by mere chance is not only intrinsically 
improbable, but implies a greater miracle than is needed 
in the explanation by inspiration. We may as well say 
that Apollo of Belvedere has been constructed out of the 
marble chips that fell from the works of the different 
statuaries who lived a thousand years before Apollo was 
chiselled, and that by mere chance all the single chips fitted 
so well into each other that nothing was redundant, noth- 
ing wanting, as maintain that the Messianic predictions 
are the outcome of mere chance. For it must be remem- 
bered that, considered from a merely natural standpoint, 
the prophets represent all possible conditions of life and 
of mental culture. A mere collusion of the inspired Mes- 
sianic writers is, therefore, simply out of the question (cf. 
Rev. B. Maitland, "The Argument from Prophecy," 2d ed., 
London, 1878, pp. 24 ff.). 

b. Second Exception answered. — As to the exception 
that an evil spirit may have been the inspiring agent, those 
who take umbrage in this expedient can no longer disbe- 
lieve in God and revelation. For without admitting reve- 
lation we have no right to explain facts by other facts 
which suppose revelation , or, at least, the knowledge of 
which cannot be obtained without revelation. But, as we 
well know, the existence of spiritual beings cannot be cer- 
tainly known without the aid of revelation. Again, those 
who really believe in revelation cannot explain the Mes- 
sianic predictions as the mere work of evil spirits, because 
in this way they destroy^fejjSjl^ and only reliable crite- 


rion of revelation, the objective truth of miracles and 
prophecies. For it is only by these that divine revelation 
may be recognized as such. And these being rendered 
void, no one has a right to suppose the existence of revela- 
tion, as our opponents are obliged to do in their explana- 
tion of the Messianic predictions. Hence, in brief, those 
who have recourse to the inspiration of spirits either 
admit the existence of revelation or they do not. If they 
do not admit revelation, they do not know the existence of 
spirits. If they admit revelation, they must logically admit 
that by which alone revelation can be known — prophecy 
and miracle. The case of these adversaries in theology is 
similar to that of the sceptics in philosophy. Their posi- 
tion supposes a truth which they either openly deny or 
admit without proof. 

c. Third Exception. M. Nicolas. — The third class of 
opponents, explaining the prophetic predictions as merely 
natural phenomena, consists mainly of rationalists. This 
school refuses to see in the prophetic phenomena anything 
beyond merely natural facts, perfectly analogous to those 
that occur in pagan history. M. Michel Nicolas (Etudes 
critiques sur la Bible, Ancien Testament, Paris, 18G2 ; Du 
prophetism hebreu, p. 306) maintains: " The prophet pre- 
sents himself with the same characteristics and under 
analogous traits amid the pagan nations and in the midst 
of the Hebrews; and the narratives which the latter have 
left us concerning the life and the preaching of their 
prophets offer striking resemblances with the stories of 
the former concerning their soothsayers." Two pages 
further on, the same author continues: "Among the 
Hebrews as well as among the pagans, prophecy was always 
accompanied by a violent excitement of the imagination. 
Prophecy is inseparable from poetry among both Hebrews 
and Gentiles." Still a few pages further on, we read : 
" The art of medicine and the art of soothsaying were in 
ancient times attributed to their prophets by the heathen 
nations and the descendants of Israel alike." On page 319 


of the same work prophetism is said to have existed among 
the Hebrews, especially at that period " which one may 
call, in the language of Vico, the heroic age of the house 
of Jacob. Prophetism ceases when that family, carried 
along by the general destiny of the nations, after its re- 
turn from the Babylonian captivity enters into what may 
be called its human age, or into its historic period properly 
so called." Finally (p. 321), the author concludes: "One 
is reduced to a general historical law; the people of Israel 
is no exception in the midst of the other nations, and 
Hebrew prophetism enters into the analogy of history." 

a. Ewald'8 View. — Ewald believes that naturally God 
calls every one to know him and to share his divine life. 
If man is faithful to this call, he rises from truth to truth, 
becomes God's friend, and partakes of his divine activity. 
Still, this divine life differs in different men and accord- 
ing to different historical periods. But, in any case, this 
life is nothing but our natural life brought to its perfec- 
tion. In a period of special spiritual excitement and 
elevation it may come to pass that a thought, conceived 
under divine influence, takes such a hold of man's soul 
that the latter takes it no longer for its own thought, but 
for God's inspiration. And since man thinks not only of 
himself, but also of his country and his friends, he con- 
ceives also projects and plans of benefiting his friends and 
saving his country. If now one of these supposed divine 
inspirations enters a man's soul, he cannot rest quiet till he 
has proclaimed his idea for the benefit of the world. Tims 
one becomes a prophet. The prophet sincerely believes 
he hears the powerful voice of the Most High; he can 
hear nothing else, is unable to escape the appeal, is urged 
to proclaim his inspiration, and finds no rest till he has 
fulfilled his supposed mission. 

/?. Reuss' Statement of the Difficulty. — Reuss (Les 
Proph6tes, t. i. p. 25) agrees with Ewald in reducing the 
gift of prophecy to the subjective belief in the presence of 
a divine voice which has no objective reality. It is of 


little practical import in the present question whether, 
according to this last opinion, Hebrew prophecy must be 
identified with pagan soothsaying, or whether it is one 
with the national and tribal presentiment of Israel. Both 
theories have their adherents. 

y. M. Reville's Addition. — M. Reville's theory too ex- 
plains prophecy as " a phenomenon of the life of senti- 
ment/' "To-day's psychological medicine," says the 
learned author {Revue des deux Mondes, 15 juin 1867, 
pp. 823, 824), " seriously studies the numerous facts which 
prove that nervous superexcitement, which may be caused 
in various ways, is often accompanied by a remarkable dis- 
play of feeling, of memory, of clear ideas, and especially 
of foresight. This foresight is, of course, far from being 
infallible ; but it would be wrong to deny the surprising 
rapidity and the automatic certainty of the unconscious 
mental operations at these moments of mental excitement." 

6. Kuerten's Tlieory. — We must not close the state- 
ment of our opponents' theories without giving a clear view 
of Dr. A. Kuenen's position regarding our present subject. 
For the books " The Religion of Israel to the Fall of the 
Jewish State" (Dutch ed. 18G9-70; English transl. 1874-75) 
and " Prophets and Prophecy in Israel" (Dutch ed. 1875; 
English transl. 1877) of the renowned Leyden professor 
are constantly quoted in our days by both European and 
American scholars. The former of these is mainly directed 
against the view which regards the Old Testament chiefly 
as the fore-court of the temple of Christianity, as a shadow 
of the Christian truth, as a collection of texts to be inter- 
preted not simply by the New Testament, but also by the 
later developments of the Christian dogma (The New 
World, March, 1892, p. 77). Kuenen expresses his opinion 
thus (Religion of Israel, vol. i. pp. 10 f.): "It is only by 
comparison that we can determine whether many persons 
are right in assuming a specific difference between Israel's 
religion and its^ sisters. Without the shadow of doubt, 
then,, we deny the existence of such a difference. . . . The 


belief in the exceptional origin of the religion of the 
Israelites is founded simply and solely on the testimony 
of their holy records. But that appearance vanishes as soon 
as we look at it more closely. . . . Although considered 
as a whole the Old Testament may with justice be ad- 
duced as testifying in favor of supernaturalism, its sepa- 
rate parts, regarded by the light of criticism, speak loudly 
for a natural development both of the Israelitish religion 
itself and of the belief in its heavenly origin. As soon as 
the dispute between the whole and its parts is noticed, 
it is decided." Prophetism is accordingly a merely human 
phenomenon, coming from God as everything comes from 
God. But, notwithstanding this, it comes also from man, 
and specifically it comes from Israel, of whose spirit it is 
the most exalted expression. It testifies only to the special 
destiny of Israel and to the duty of man to seek God and 
perhaps to find him. 

e. Kuenen's View further Developed. — Kuenen's other 
book, " Prophets and Prophecy in Israel," deals more 
directly with our subject, and was written at the instiga- 
tion of Dr. John Muir,of Edinburgh, on the occasion of 
A. Reville's articles in the Revue des deux Mondes. Its 
object is to determine the function of the prophetic 
thought in the religious development of Israel and of 
mankind. The book has a polemical and ruthless tone. 
Kuenen takes the prophetic predictions one by one, and 
undertakes to show that most of them were not fulfilled, 
and that those which were fulfilled do not demand any 
supposition of supernatural insight to account for them. 
He treats the prophets as living men enveloped in the 
atmosphere of their own times, acting on the instincts of 
their own souls, and he finds no need of the supernatural 
in order to explain their work. The professor places the 
value of Hebrew prophecy not in its predictive element, 
but in its creating the conception of ethical monotheism. 
And in order to shield himself against the blame of ir- 
reverence towards the line of prophets, Kuenen says that 


the man into whose mind thoughts are mechanically 
poured by God is no more to be considered great than the 
warrior who slays his enemy with an enchanted sword. 
According to him the prophets must cease to be machines, 
and become thinkers, wielding an enormous moral power 
{The New World, March, 1892, p. 81). 

C. Kuenen's Method illustrated. — AVe may add a speci- 
men of Kuenen's reasoning: "A specific supernatural 
character can in nowise be ascribed to the trance; its 
divine origin is not at all self-evident ; phenomena of that 
nature were far from uncommon in ancient times and 
in the Middle Ages, as they occur even at the present day. 
It is true that for a long time people had no hesitation in 
ascribing them to supernatural influence. They seemed 
so singular and extraordinary that this explanation forced 
itself quite naturally on men's minds. AVhat could not 
be derived from God was therefore regarded as a display of 
the power of the devil. But we now no longer occupy that 
standpoint. Ecstasy is now accurately studied, compared 
with other affections allied to it, and is explained from 
the human organism itself, specifically from the nervous 
system. It may be — on that point I determine nothing at 
present — that the trances of the Israelitish prophets were 
of a nature altogether different; but that must be proved 
separately, for ecstasy in itself is no supernatural phenome- 
non. It does not therefore advance us a step in deter- 
mining the origin of the Old Testament prophecy" 
(Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, p. 86, London, 1871; 
cf. Ladd, Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, ii. pp. 440 f., 1883). 

Answer: 1. The Naturally Ecstatic State. — First a 
word concerning the ecstatic state, the natural character of 
which both Reville and Kuenen are so careful to notice. 
In a rude and uncultivated age epileptic and deranged 
persons may have been regarded as possessed by evil 
spirits or the divine spirit, as the nature of the case seemed 
to indicate. Such persons, too, may have had strange ex- 
periences and uttered marvellous sayings, supposed to be 


inspired by an indwelling spirit. Moreover, the ecstatic 
state may have been produced by artificial means. The 
prophets of Baal, e.g., are said to have cut themselves with 
knives and to have cried out for hours in a frenzy (III. 
Kings xviii. 29); the necromancers are represented as 
chirping and muttering in the practice of their art (Is. 
viii. 19); the Shamans of eastern Asia cast themselves into 
an unconscious state by means of a tambourine and of 
stimulants, and though their answers in that state are 
often surprisingly accurate, they know nothing of what 
has transpired when they return to consciousness (Tho- 
luck, " Die Propheten," pp. 8 f.); how the Delphian proph- 
etesses were cast into the prophetic state by the foul gases 
arising from the clefts in the rocks is well known (Tholuck, 
1. c, pp. G f.; cf. Maudsley, "Natural Causes and Super- 
natural Seemings," London, 188G, pp. 176 f.); the whirling 
and the howling of the Mahometan dervishes are practised 
even in our days; the Indian Fakirs cut themselves with 
knives, as did the prophets of Baal; besides all this we 
have the kindred phenomena of second sight, of uncon- 
scious somnambulism and of hypnotism. 

2. This is nowhere said to belong especially to the 
Hebrews. — In these so-called ecstatic conditions involving 
unconsciousness to the external world, the inner emotional 
and intellectual faculties may move with greater rapidity 
and freedom, and may reach the solutions of difficult prob- 
lems and discern the issues of events far and near. Per- 
haps there is even added an instinctive prediction and an 
instinctive guidance through difficulties ; but there may be 
also an entire absence of the latter. Nor do we deny that 
such phenomena existed among the Hebrews in apparently 
a similar way as they existed among otlrcr nations of 
antiquity. Thus avc read of a band of prophets coming 
down from the high place with psaltery and timbrel and 
pipe and harp, and they were prophesying; and when 
Saul met them, the spirit of the Lord came upon him too 
and he prophesied with them (I. Kings x. 5 f.); and 


again, when Saul went out to seek David the divine spirit 
came upon him, and he went on and prophesied until he 
came to Najoth in Ramatha. And stripping off his clothes, 
he fell down naked all that day and all that night, and he 
prophesied before Samuel, so that they said : Is Saul also 
among the prophets ? (I. Kings xix. 23 f.) But if this 
state is alluded to in the Bible, it is certainly not repre- 
sented as being peculiar to the Hebrews and to their re- 
ligion (cf. Briggs, " Messianic Prophecy," New York, 188G, 
pp. 7 ft). 

3. Fallacy of Kuerten's Induction. — We furthermore 
agree entirely with Dr. Maudsley (Natural Causes and 
Supernatural Seemings, London, 188G, pp. 361, 3G2) : "If 
all visions, intuitions, and other modes of communication 
with the supernatural, accredited now or at any time, have 
been no more than phenomena of psychology, — instances, 
that is, of subnormal, supernormal, or abnormal mental 
function,— and if all existing supernatural beliefs are sur- 
vivals of a state of thought befitting lower stages of human 
development, the continuance of such beliefs cannot be 
helpful; it must be hurtful to human progress." But it 
would surely show a most unscientific bent of mind were 
we to conclude from the spuriousness of some supposed 
prophetic ecstasies that all others, even those contained in 
the Bible, must be rejected as spurious (cf. Briggs, 1. c, 
p. 5). Hence it appears that Kuenen's argument, taken at 
its greatest value, is not logically conclusive. 

4. The so-called Natural Facts have not yet been ex- 
plained. — Then we must keep in mind M. Le Hir's 
remarks on the present question (Les Prophetes d'Israel, 
in Etudes Bibliques, Paris, 18G9, t. i. p. G) : "Our psy- 
chologic medicine may be able to observe the phenomena 
of foresight and second sight, but has it explained them ? 
Has it assigned their causes ? Not every nervous excite- 
ment produces them. And who has proved that in no case 
a supernatural agent is active? Our ancestors believed 
this. Are we wiser than they, when without any scientific 


proof we attribute their belief on this point to universal 
ignorance ? Ignorance will always produce fools. There 
are always charlatans, and always enthusiasts, victims of 
their own illusions. But when they undertake to prophesy, 
the future will show the folly of their oracles, and thus dis- 
pel the charm with which they had fascinated the simple." 
5. Ecstasy is not the Criterion of Prophecy. — Besides 
all this, our prophetic argument is not in the least affected 
by all that Reville and Kuenen have said about the ecstatic 
state. AVere our criterion of true prophecy the ecstasy of 
its utterer at the time when the prediction is first made, 
our opponents might, at least, have thrown some doubt on 
the argument based on such utterances. But ecstasy is not 
at all necessarily connected with prophecy; many prophe- 
cies have been uttered outside of the ecstatic state, as there 
have been many cases of ecstasy not producing any 
prophecy. It is not so easy as all this to be a prophet. 
Since the future does not yet exist for man, he cannot 
know it naturally except in its causes. If the latter exist 
already even in a latent state, if there is question of certain 
physical effects depending on them, a perfectly developed 
nervous sensibility may perceive them beforehand, as it 
happens in the case of rheumatic persons or of the tree- 
frog. But when there is question of a far-off future event, 
depending on the changeable wills of innumerable agents 
who are influenced by a diversity of interests, it appears 
clearer than daylight that no amount of emotion can fore- 
see it naturally. Had our opponents appealed to the power 
of profound calculations and to the calculus of probabili- 
ties, they might have laid claim to a scientific basis of pro- 
ceeding; but they well know that even scientific men 
would have smiled at their unsatisfactory explanation of 
certain historic facts. Our criterion of prophecy is there- 
fore neither the emotion nor the mathematic ability of the 
prophet, but the exact correspondence of the predicted event 
with the terms of the predictions, the proper conditions 
regarding both prediction and fulfilment being verified. 


6. Even one Prophecy, established ivith Certainty, is 
God's Testimony. — But has not Kuenen proved the futility 
of the prophecy-argument, even on the supposition of this 
criterion of prophecy being admitted ? Has he not, in 
other words, shown that most of the supposed Old Testa- 
ment predictions have not been fulfilled ? Let us suppose, 
for a moment, that Kuenen has really proved what he 
claims to have proved: even on this supposition our 
prophecy-argument is still valid on Kuenen's own admis- 
sion. For he freely admits that some predictions have been 
really verified, though he maintains that in these instances 
the event predicted could have been foreseen naturally. 
In the light of science, i.e., of the calculus of probabilities, 
the last contention cannot be defended. And as long as 
we have even one real prophecy testifying for the divine 
nature and mission of Jesus, our conclusion is logically 
correct. For one prophecy is as much the work of God, 
supposes as much God's inspiration and expresses as much 
God's approval, as does the whole series of Messianic pre- 
dictions. It matters little whether a person has signed a 
legal document only once, or has repeated his seal a hun- 
dred times; so it is of little import whether God's testi- 
mony in favor of Jesus' divine nature and mission is given 
once, or a hundred times, it is infallible in any case. All 
that is added to our argument by the multiplicity of the 
Messianic predictions is the greater certainty thereby se- 
cured that we have real prophecies and not merely casual 
predictions; that, in other words, God himself has inspired 
the utterers of the predictions. Even as in a single extra- 
ordinary event it would be hard to determine its strictly 
miraculous character, so in the case of a single prediction 
it is difficult to determine whether it is to be attributed to 
mere chance or to divine illumination. 

7. Falsely Alleged Unfulfilled Prophecies. — But apart 
from all this, Kuenen has not proved that most of the Old 
Testament predictions have not been verified. We need 
only consider some few of the instances in which the 


prophecies are said to have failed, in order to judge of our 
opponent's position. In regard to the prophecies against 
Tyre (Is. xxiii. and Ezech. xxvi.) which are alleged to have 
remained unfulfilled, the difficulty arises from not distin- 
guishing between Old Tyre and New Tyre. Nabucho- 
donosor took Old Tyre on the continent; but New Tyre, on 
the island, submitted to the Chaldaeans by capitulation. 
Tyre regained her independence after the fall of Babylon, 
and became rich and prosperous (cf. Elliott, " Old Testa- 
ment Prophecy," New York, 1889, p. 52). Amos is said to 
have prophesied the murder of Jeroboam II., simply because 
his bitter opponent, the priest of Bethel, thus reported the 
prophet's words; Amos did not speak of the king in person, 
but of his house and dynasty (cf. Amos vii. 11 and v. 9). 
Osee is said to have predicted an Egyptian captivity for 
the ten tribes, while it is plain from the political circum- 
stances under which the prophet wrote that he predicted 
only a flight into Egypt, but a captivity in Assyria (cf. 
Osee viii. 13; ix. 3, 6; xi. 5, 11). Other prophecies were 
uttered only conditionally, as was the case in the predic- 
tion of Jonas and in that of Micheas regarding the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem by the Assyrians (cf. Mich. iii. 12). 

8. Philistia's Destruction. — But we must not omit ex- 
amples of Kuenen's investigation both of the prophecies 
regarding pagan nations and of the predictions regarding 
the chosen people of Israel. A good instance of the 
former class is the almost unanimous prediction of the 
prophets that the cities of Philistia were to be destroyed 
(cf. Amos i. 6-8; Joel iii. 4-8; Ezech. xxv. 15-17; Zach. 
ix. 4-7; Soph. ii. 4-7; Jer. xlvii.; Is. xiv. 29-32; xi. 14). 
It must be observed that Kuenen insists on two additional 
points: First, he maintains that according to these prophe- 
cies Philistia's destruction was to happen shortly after the 
time of the predictions; secondly, that the prophets had 
expressly indicated the medium through which Philistia 
was to suffer. 

Kuenen himself is fair enough to admit that the medium 


of Philistia's chastisement is not indicated by the prophets 
Amos, Joel, Ezechiel, Zacharias, and Sophonias. He ap- 
peals, however, to Is. v. 30 and to Jer. xlvii. 1. The most 
probable reading of the former passage is the following: 
"And if one look unto the land, behold darkness and 
distress, and the light is darkened in the clouds thereof." 
Having overcome Achaz, the Philistines imagined that 
they had no more to fear from Juda. Then it was that 
Isaias spoke to them (Is. xiv. 29) : " Rejoice not, Philis- 
tia, all of thee, because the rod that smote thee is broken ; 
for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a basilisk, and 
his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." It is, therefore, 
Achaz's successor, Ezechias, who is pointed out by Isaias 
as Philistia's scourge, and it is at his approach from the 
north that "the smoke of the north" will be perceived in 
the cloud of dust raised by his military lines,, The text of 
Jeremias (xlvii. 2) speaks only of waters "that rise up out 
of the north" against the city of Gaza, and to identify 
these waters with the Chaldaeans is an arbitrary exegesis. 
Hence, neither Isaias nor Jeremias pointed to the Chal- 
daeans as the scourge of the Philistine cities. 

9. No Time determined in the Predictions. — As to the 
contention of Kuenen that these prophecies were to be 
accomplished shortly after they had been uttered, there 
certainly exists no general rule to this effect regarding the 
fulfilment of prophecy. Rousseau's contention, that we 
ourselves must witness prediction and fulfilment, is alto- 
gether gratuitous. Hence, if Kuenen wishes that his 
position should have any scientific value, he must prove it 
in regard to this special class of predictions. In point of 
fact, the contemporaries of the prophets who uttered the 
predictions in question did not witness their fulfilment. 
Sophonias clearly declares that Juda will not possess 
Philistia till after its return from the Babylonian captivity. 
Keil, commenting on Sophonias ii. 4, is of opinion that this 
particular prediction has not yet found its fulfilment. 
According to this view the material return of Israel from 


Babylon was only a figure of the final return of Israel to 
its God by its conversion to Christ, and after this return 
will Israel possess the land of Philistia. Without denying 
the probability of this explanation, we must take notice 
that Isaias' prediction was sufficiently accomplished by 
Ezechias, who gained such remarkable advantages over 
the Philistines that he devastated their territory and pur- 
sued them even to the gates of Gaza. Not to mention the 
Philistine sufferings during the Egypto-Chaldaean wars, 
there is the most remarkable fact that shortly after the 
time at which Zacharias predicts the approaching destruc- 
tion of Gaza and Ascalon, Philistia disappears from the 
field of history. 

10. Prophecies Concerning Israel. — Next a specimen of 
Kuenen's reasoning concerning the prophecies about the 
future of Israel. Not one of them, he says, has been ful- 
filled. It seems, he adds, to be an unreasonable conten- 
tion; but it is the simple truth. The return of all Israel 
to its native land, the supremacy of Israel over the nations 
of the earth, in a word, Israel's glory, is still expected and 
will not be realized till the last days shall come (cf. " The 
Prophets and Prophecy in Israel/' p. 18G). To answer 
Kuenen's observations properly, we have to keep in mind 
that a double sense must be distinguished in prophecy: 
the one literal, the other spiritual or typical. Till now, no 
doubt, most of the prophecies concerning Israel's glory, or 
all of them, have been fulfilled only in their spiritual sense 
in the Christian Church. To doubt the reality of such a 
fulfilment is to forget the important truth, so often in- 
sisted on by the Fathers, that the whole Old Testament is 
a preparation and a type of the New. But at all avents, 
the apostles have hoped, and there is nothing to prevent 
us from hoping, that the Jews will finally enter the king- 
dom of God, from which they have thus far freely excluded 
themselves. And though this may not be a sufficient 
reason for imagining that the temporal promises of the 
prophets, not accomplished in the foundation of the 


Church, will then find their fulfilment, we have every 
possible reason for maintaining that all those promises will 
be fulfilled in a way far surpassing the expectations of the 
most sanguine believer. For are they not the predictions 
of the same prophets who foretold the Babylonian Cap- 
tivity more than a hundred and fifty years before it took 
place (Mich. iv. 8-10) — even before Babylon had gained its 
independence — who clearly and accurately predicted the 
destruction of Jerusalem, who prophesied Babylon's cap- 
ture by the Medes (Jer. i. 1 f.), and Asia's conquest by 
Alexander the Great ? (Zach. ix. 1-8.) Since God has 
sealed with his own testimony these predictions, he has also 
pledged his authority for the truth of the other prophe- 
cies from the non-fulfilment of which Kuenen takes his 
argument against us (cf. Trochon, "Introduction generale 
aux prophetes," Paris, 1883, pp. xix. n\). 

y. Relative Truth of the Prophecies. — Thus far 
we have proved the first and second statement implied 
in the minor proposition of our argument, that there 
existed Messianic predictions at or before the time of Jesus 
Christ, and that these predictions were prophecies in the 
proper sense of the word. We must now briefly consider 
the third statement implied in the same minor proposition, 
the statement that the Messianic prophecies were given by 
God in testimony of Jesus' divinity and divine mission. 
The logical necessity of this proposition in the prophecy- 
argument may be inferred from the fact that not every 
event predicted by true prophecy is therefore of divine 
origin, or has therefore God's sanction. Jesus really pre- 
dicted the treason of Judas and the fall of Peter without 
thereby giving his approval to either event. In the same 
manner he foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, and at 
the same time wept over the fate of the unfaithful city, — 
a certain sign of his disapproval. The coming of Anti- 
Christ is predicted without having, on that account, divine 
sanction or divine authority. In the same manner it is 
not owing to the mere fact of the coming and birth, the 


work and suffering of Jesus being predicted that he can 
claim to be a messenger of God, and to be one with the 
Father. To establish these claims, Jesus must show that 
God has given his authority to them by the very fact of 
predicting them by the mouth of the prophets. 

1. Organic Connection of the Prophecies. — In order to 
draw our inference logically, we have to remember that the 
Messianic prophecies contain a double element: they pre- 
dict certain outward events whose verification can be per- 
ceived by our senses, and they predict certain inward prop- 
erties and faculties of the Messias which are not directly 
subject to our sensitive perception. Now, it must be 
noticed that these two lines of predictions are so intimately 
connected that they must proceed from the same author; 
because the first without the second would be vain and 
empty, while the second without the first would be entirely 
useless for the human race. The former might be the 
work of a mere mountebank, and the latter could never be 
practically verified so as to affect our moral life and our 
tenets of belief. Hence the two lines of prophetic pre- 
dictions are inseparably woven into one organic whole. 
If then the prophecies regarding the outward events that 
are subject to our experience are verified and, therefore, 
proved to be of divine origin, — for God alone can be the 
author of true prophecy, — the prophecies regarding the in- 
ward facts that are above our sensitive experience must be 
of divine origin too — i.e., must have been inspired by God, 
and are therefore infallibly true. If, e.g., the event has 
proved that God really foretold of the Messias that he will 
be despised and the most abject of men, — a man of sorrows 
and acquainted with infirmity, — the same event has proved 
God to be the author also of those other words: "Surely 
he hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows. . . . 
He was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our 
sins" (Is. liii. 3-5). 

2 Identity of Sacred and Profane Seer.— Besides this 
there is another way of inferring God's testimony for the 


divine mission and nature of the Messias from the Messianic 
prophecies, or perhaps it is the way already indicated, but 
viewed from a different standpoint. From the fact that a 
prophet predicted certain future events, which have really 
come to pass, it may be inferred that God made him his 
own messenger to his people. Whatever, therefore, this 
acknowledged divine agent either said or wrote concerning 
God's kingdom, or the time and manner of its coming, was 
based upon divine authority. The prophet's contemporaries 
certainly had no other way of ascertaining the true pro- 
phetic nature of the Messianic predictions. For they had 
not yet the correspondence between prediction and fulfil- 
ment to guide them in their belief or disbelief of any given 
Messianic prophecy. The negative criterion of true 
prophecy, laid down in Dent, xviii. 22, could not, in 
the Old Testament, be applied to the Messianic fulfilment, 
but was observed in the accomplishment of contempo- 
raneous events : " Whatsoever that same prophet foretelleth 
in the name of the Lord, and it cometh not to pass, that 
thing the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath 
forged it by the pride of his mind : and therefore thou shalt 
not fear him." 



ON perusing the records of antiquity we are met by two 
most striking features pervading all the productions 
of literature. On the one hand, a universal wail 
ascends up to heaven deploring the wickedness and the 
misery of the human race; on the other, a universal strain 
of expectation vibrates in the human heart, looking forward 
to a better future and to a coming redeemer. Both these 
features deserve a moment's reflection. 

1. General Misery: a. Among the Egyptians and In- 
dians. — The ancient Egyptians and the Indians looked upon 
life as a time of penance and reparation. According to 
them, the soul is a fallen spirit condemned to a union with 
a material body in punishment for its previous misdeeds. 
We read in the Veda (v. Bohlen, " Altes Indien," Theil 1, p. 
1G8) : " What joy can be found on earth where everything 
grows worse? Kings have, been overturned, mountains 
have been sunk, the pole has changed its place, the stars 
have swerved from their course, the whole earth has been 
visited by a flood, and the spirits have been thrown out of 
heaven." Buddha makes the absolute and necessary con- 
nection of sorrow with all individual existence the first 
of the " Four Noble Truths " which are the fundamental 
articles of the Buddhist creed. It is written: "This, () 
Monks, is the holy truth concerning suffering. Death is 
Buffering; old ago is Buffering; sickness is suffering; to be 
united with what is not loved is suffering; to be parted 
from what is loved is suffering; not to attain one's desires is 


suffering " (Kellogg, " The Light of Asia and the Light of 
the World/' London, 1885, p. 12). 

b. Among the Persians and Mexicans. — According to 
Zoroaster the world is at present ruled by Ahriman; and 
the old Mexicans said to the child at baptism : " Dear 
child, Ometeuctli and Omecihuatle have created thee in 
heaven and have sent thee on the earth. But know that life, 
which thou now beginnest, is sad, laborious, and full of 
miseries, and thou shalt not be able to eat thy bread without 
hardship. May God assist thee in the many miseries which 
await thee" (Clavigero, t. ii. p. 8Q). 

c. Testimony of Human Sacrifices and Other Rites. — Many 
of the pagan traditions explain the origin of human sacri- 
fices by recalling the time of the Nephilim and the murder 
of Cain. According to the opinion of the same nations 
human sacrifices are to cease at the end of the present era. 
The Mexicans, e. g., believed that the goddess Centeotl or 
Tzinteotl (like the Greek goddess of justice, who had 
disappeared on account of human sin, but was to return at 
the end) would finally gain the victory, abolish human 
sacrifices, and substitute the offering of the firstlings of 
the harvest in their place. In the same manner, the Indian 
Kali (the fallen Eve) has caused death and human sacrifice 
alike. But she rules only over the present age, and the good 
Durga-Bhawani will return and gain the victory (Hum- 
boldt, " Ans. der Cord." ii. p. GO). Again, the ceremonies of 
baptism, circumcision, and the other rites of purification 
following among so many nations the birth of the child, 
are as many signs of the general belief in man's innate 

d. The Greek Sages.— The testimony of the Greek lite- 
rature is especially important in this question of an early 
belief in man's fall, because among the Greek writers we 
meet not only prating collectors of every myth and fable, 
but men of world-wide wisdom. Hesiod speaks of the iron 
age consuming man in labor and sorrow (Op. et dies, edit. 
LipsiaB 1778, v. 176-181); Homer considers man the most 


miserable of all that lives and moves on the face of the 
earth (Iliad, xvii. 446, 447; cf. xxiv. 522 if.) ; and the 
ancient oracle given according to tradition by Silenus to 
Midas (Arist. ap. Plut. consol. ad Apoll. p. 27; cf. Cicero, 
Tuscul. Disp. 1, 48) states that it is best for man not to be 

e. The Later Greek Writers. — The opinion of the later 
scientific Greeks perfectly agrees with that of the earliest 
writers of fable. For though at first sight the fully de- 
veloped Greek religion presents an aspect of cheerfulness, 
especially when it is compared with the melancholy and 
penitential religious systems of the East, still the great- 
est thinkers of the nation, one and all, maintain the exist- 
ence of a universal sorrow. Socrates is of opinion that we 
must cling to the best of human beliefs as to aboard on the 
ocean, till we shall be favored with the safety of a divine 
boat (Phsedo, p. 85, D). The same sage advises Alcibiades 
to wait with his sacrifices till Providence shall takeaway his 
blindness and teach him how to behave toward man and 
God (Alcibiades, ii. pp. 150, 151). Plato describes the lot of 
the just man on earth in so vivid and true a manner that 
many have seen in his words a prophecy of Christ's suffer- 
ings: "The just man who does not only appear to be just, 
but is so in truth, will be bound, scourged, tortured, blinded 
in both eyes, and finally, after suffering all possible pain, he 
will be hanged; and then he will understand that one must 
not wish to be just, but only to appear so" (De rep. ii. 302). 

/. Greek Philosophic Thought. — Though Plato describes 
the ideal state, he at the same time maintains that it exists 
nowhere on earth, and in conclusion he consoles man with 
the view of the future life (De rep. c. x.; Phasd. 240). 
Krantor, a disciple of Plato's school, teaches that life has 
through man's guilt become laborious and wretched. In no 
one is it found in its normal condition (Plut. cons, ad Apoll. 
p. 323, ed. Hutten). Timaeus of Lokri, an adherent of the 
Pythagorean school, confesses that the struggle in us be- 
tween good and evil is owing more to the guilt of our 


ancestors than to the elements of which our nature is com- 
posed (De anima mundi, p. 103). In general, that life is a 
state of captivity, a penitential state or a sickness, is de- 
fended throughout by the pagan philosophers from Pytha- 
goras down to Cicero. The cry of anguish rising up to 
heaven from suffering human nature is well symbolized in 
Prometheus riveted to the hardest rock, and having his 
heart eaten by the vulture. The " worm that dieth not " of 
the New Testament and the " conscience " of the Christian 
Ethics could not have been represented in a more striking 
manner. Well may St. Paul write to the Romans (viii. 22) : 
" We know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in 
pain even till now." Modern paganism, throwing off 
what it considers the shackles of the Christian redemption, 
returns to the same state of wailing anguish which we 
notice in the literature of classic paganism (ef. Byron's 
Cain, with Goethe's comment). 

g. Testimony of Roman Writers.— Man's cry for help and 
pity grows louder the more civilized the human race be, 
comes. When the wisdom and the civilization of the uni 
verse had been concentrated in Rome, then it was that 
Rome groaned most piteously. Cicero (De rep. 3) says that 
nature is not man's mother, but his stepmother, producing 
him as she does weak and naked of body, timorous and 
cowardly in spirit, prone to passions, and endowed with 
only a spark of soul and understanding. And Seneca (De 
ira, iii. 26; cf. ii. 9, 27, de benef. i. 10) considers it use- 
less to cover up with smooth words the universal malady. 
We are all bad. What one blames in another he finds 
hidden in his own breast. Wickedly we live among the 
wicked. The only consolation Seneca can offer his reader 
is the approaching ruin of the world and of the human 
race. In the new order of things man will be free from 
vice (Qnaest. nat. 3 sub fin.). Marcus Aurelius too com- 
plains that the iron age has entered, and that fidelity, 
honor, justice, and truth have fled from earth to heaven 
(t£v npck eaVTor, 1. 5). The satires of Juvenal repeat 


the same universal complaint (Sat. xiii. 19-22; xv. 70, 
71). The number of the good has been reduced to that of 
the Nile's outlets and of the gates of Thebes. If a god 
deigns to look down upon the earth, he turns away, derid- 
ing and despising the human race. In the epistle of St. 
Paul to the Romans we find the explanation of the fact 
that God allowed man to fall so low (viii. 20): "The 
creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by 
reason of him that made it subject, in hope." 

2. General Hope of Redemption.—^. The Persians — 
But the expectation of a future redeemer is not less univer- 
sally expressed in the classical literature of antiquity than is 
the persuasion of the fall. A glimpse at the national tradi- 
tions of the various tribes and countries in the ancient world 
will prove the existence of such a universal expectation, and 
show the character of the redeemer thus expected. To 
begin with the Persian traditions, they must be considered 
connectedly in order to be fully understood. Ahriman 
with the help of his poison overcomes the bull Abudad. 
The latter when dying utters the words: "Behold, what is 
to happen to the creatures that are to come: It is my will 
to protect them against evil/' From the right hip of the 
dying Abudad proceeds Kajomords, the first man, and 
Ahriman now directs his fury against him. After a thirty 
years' battle Kajomords is at length overcome, but he too 
at the moment of his death utters the prophecy : " Thou 
hast entered as enemy, but all the men of my seed will do 
what is good and will overthrow thee" (Zendavesta, 
Budehesh. 3 and 4; Kleuker, Anhang z. Zend., Bd. ii., Th. 
3, p. 172). 

The whole setting of the latter prediction in the Persian 
system of religion shows that the term "all men " does not 
refer to all the descendants of Kajomords, but denotes only 
all the future redeemers. In point of fact, the Persians 
apply it to Zoroaster, as the context demands. For when 
Goshorun is standing near the dead body of the bull and 
laments over the misfortune that has befallen the earth, 


Ormuzd answers him in the following way: " The bull is 
fallen indeed through Ahriman. But this man is reserved 
for an earth and a time where Ahriman will have no 
power." Then showing him the Ferver (spirit of Zoroaster), 
Ormuzd continues: " Him I shall give to the world, and he 
will keep it pure from evil." 

Though the adherents of the Zendavesta apply this proph- 
ecy to Zoroaster, as we have seen, they do not take the 
latter for the true Messias. Sosyosh will, according to 
them, be the true and final redeemer, and the two prophets 
Osheder Mah and Osheder Bami will precede him. In the 
last millennium, Osheder Bami will appear and bind the sun 
for ten days and nights, convert one half of the human race 
to the law, and add the twenty-second Nosk or part to the 
law. Four hundred years later, Osheder Mah will come, 
bind the sun for twenty days and twenty nights, convert one 
third of the human race to the law, and add the twenty-third 
Nosk or part to the same. At the end of times, Sosyosh 
will appear, bind the sun for thirty days and thirty nights, 
i. e., extend the time of the day to that length, add the 
twenty-fourth Nosk or part to the law, and convert the 
whole human race to the Zendavesta. As to the birth of 
the three redeemers, all three will be born of pure virgins. 
As Zoroaster sprang from the seed of Kajomords the first 
man, so will the future saviours spring from the seed of 
Zoroaster. For the seed will accidentally be mixed with the 
waters of lake Kasava, where the three undefiled virgins will 
conceive when bathing in the water. We need not here give 
the further details about the victory of Zoroaster's seed, 
about the virginal birth of the prophets, and about the 
comet Gurzsher, corresponding perhaps to the star of Jacob. 

h. The Indians. — Turning now to India we may at first 
imagine ourselves face to face with religions that are at 
the farthest possible remove from Christianity — religions 
that leave no room for the existence of a God or of a re- 
deemer. Brahmanism, indeed, retains the name of a God, 
proceeding, as it does, from the one God Varuna to the 


worship of its three hundred and thirty millions of gods. 
But, after all, the world is for the Brahmanist nothing but 
an emanation from Brahma, the absolutely holy, infinite 
and impersonal being. Gods, spirits, different castes of 
men, animals, trees, bushes, herbs, and, finally, the lifeless 
and the inorganic matter proceed in regular order from the 
same impersonal source. Of a God in the true sense of the 
word there is not the slightest question. 

Consoling as this system may seem to the agnostics and 
the positivists of our day, Buddhism is still more congenial 
to them. Its very origin commends Buddhism to its 
admirers, beginning as it does with the rejection of the 
whole Brahmanic system of supposed religious revelation. 
As modern unbelief is noted for its utter contempt of 
authority in matters of science and of religion, so did 
Buddha speak as a "plain man" who had sought for rest 
and found it without the assistance of Brahman priest, 
and without the light of divine revelation (cf. Kellogg, 
" The Light of Asia and the Light of the World/' London, 
1885, p. 1G). 

Besides, like the atheism of our modern scientists, 
Buddha's atheism is modest, negative and agnostic. As 
Herbert Spencer thinks that" the "power which is mani- 
fested in the universe is utterly inscrutable," so Buddha 
believes that "there is one thing which is not in the do- 
minion of the intellect — to know whence come all the be- 
ings of the universe, and whither they go " (A. Remusat, 
mel. posth. 121, quotes an ancient Buddhist Sutta; cf. 
Koeppen, " Die Religion des Buddha," p. 231). 

Returning now to our subject, both Brahmanism and 
Buddhism recognize the necessity of redemption, but in 
such a manner that they make man his own redeemer. If 
the Gospel tells us of a God who became man to save the 
human race, Brahmanism speaks of man being physically 
absorbed into God, and Buddhism reveres a man who 
became God, even the Buddha, who, under the Bo-tree, 
attained to all power and knowledge. When the adherent 


of Brahmanism, after his millions of births and purifica- 
tions of the most various kinds, is finally reabsorbed into 
the divinity whence he had emanated, he attains to his 
happiness through his own unaided strength. Similarly 
Buddha did not save man, but only showed him how he 
may save himself. Buddhism ever insists on the fact that 
the Buddha attained his end by his own exertion and 
merit, and that any man who is willing to walk in the 
same path will arrive at the same end. Fully in accord- 
ance with this doctrine, Buddhism denies the existence of 
an impassable gulf between the brute-creation and man. 
A pig or a rat may, at any time, become a man, and even a 
Buddha, as Buddha himself is said to have been at one 
time a pig, at another a rat (Kellogg, " The Light of Asia 
and the Light of the World/' London, 1885, p. 7). 

Gautama Buddha was by no means the first, nor will he 
be the last Buddha. The succession of Buddhas is believed 
to be without beginning and without end. We become 
acquainted with Gautama first when he is living at an in- 
conceivably remote period in the city Amaravati as a rich 
Brahman, named Sumedha. Reflecting on the vanity and 
sorrow inseparable from life, he determined to renounce 
his wealth and become an ascetic, that he might attain a 
state in which there is no rebirth. About the same time, 
Dipankara Buddha appeared in the world, and as on one 
occasion he was coming where the ascetic Sumedha was 
staying, the Bodhisat (he who is to become a Buddha) cast 
himself in the mire that Dipankara might walk over him. 
And as he lay in the mire, beholding the majesty of Dipan- 
kara Buddha with unblenching gaze, he thought thus : "If 
I wished, I might this day destroy within me all human 
passions. But why should I in disguise arrive at the 
knowledge of the truth ? I will attain omniscience and 
become a Buddha, and save men and angels. Why should 
I cross the ocean, resolute but alone ? I will attain omnis- 
cience and enable men and angels to cross. By this reso- 
lution of mine, I, a man of resolution, embarking in the 


ship of the truth, I will carry across with me men and 

This is the much-vaunted resolution by which Gautama 
Buddha gave himself up for the salvation of man. But 
how does it compare with the self-sacrifice of the Son of 
God, who gave himself up for our redemption, as one sent 
by the Father ? (Kellogg, 1. c, pp. 65 ff.) Whether the 
forms of Brahmanism and Buddhism thus far described be 
regarded as very ancient, or as comparatively recent, is of 
little importance in the present question ; in either case it 
is certain that the great body of Indian nations recognizes 
the necessity of redemption. 

e. The Chinese. — Turning now to the religious ideas of 
the Chinese, it must be kept in mind that for ages they 
have been educated and lived in the system of Confucius. 
Not as if Confucius could claim to be the founder of a re- 
ligion, such as were Buddha and Mohammed; but still, 
his maxims and principles have penetrated into the very 
marrow of Chinese life and Chinese thought. The most 
telling characteristic of Confucius is found in the Luen-jue 
(Plath, p. 89) : " He did not refuse chosen food, nor well- 
cleaned rice, nor fine-cut meat; but spoiled food, stale fish, 
tainted meat, and all that had a bad color or odor he did 
not touch, He did not eat what had not been well carved, 
or what had not its proper sauce. Even when there was 
abundance of meat, he did not overeat himself; as to wine, 
he did not bind himself to any definite quantity, but he 
never allowed his mind to be disturbed. He did not drink 
wine bought in the market, nor did he eat dried meat. 
Never did he eat without Ingwer, . . . and while eating he 
did not speak. . . . When his mat was not placed right, 
he did not sit down on it. . . . When invited to a well- 
provided dinner, he changed color, stood up, and expressed 
his obligations to his host." From this description we see 
that Confucius was nothing but a utilitarian of the worst 
class. Still, even this Epicurean materialist announced 
that the truly Holy One should appear in the West. 


Whether we refer to She-wen-lui-thsin (c. 35) or 
Chaii-Thang-she-shao-tchhig-thi (c. 1) or Lini-theu-Thsio- 
nan-chu, we always find the same hope expressed. The 
minister Pi said to Confucius: "Master, are you not a holy 
man ? " He answered : " In spite of my greatest efforts, I 
cannot recollect any man worthy of this name." Pi 
replied : " Were not the three princes (the founders of the 
first three dynasties, Hia, Shang, and Dsheu) saints?" 
" The three princes," said Confucius, " were possessed of 
boundless goodness, a lofty spirit, and an unconquerable 
fortitude. But I am not willing to decide whether they 
have been saints." Again the minister asked : " Were not 
the five emperors (the patriarchs before the flood, from 
Fo-hi to Shuen) saints ? " " The five emperors," he re- 
plied, " were good, of great mildness and incorruptible 
justice; but I do not know whether they have been 
saints." " But," continued Pi, " are not the three illustrious 
ones (i.e., the three so-called Sanhoang or macrocosmic 
emperors before Fo-hi, Tien-hoang or emperor-heaven, Ti- 
hoang or emperor - earth, Shin-hoang or emperor - man) 
worthy of this name ? " Confucius said : " The three illus- 
trious ones well knew how to employ their time of life; 
but I dare not call them saints." AVholly astonished, the 
minister exclaimed : " Who then is the true saint ? " Con- 
fucius replied enthusiastically, but in a soft tone of voice: 
" I have heard that the true saint will arise in the far 
West; he will end all confusion without governing, he will 
excite unconditional faith without speaking, he will pro- 
duce an ocean of meritorious works without changing the 
appearance of things. No one knows his name, but I have 
heard that he alone should be the true saint." 

The old prophecy according to which the true saint was 
to arise in the far West caused the emperor Ming-di, of the 
dynasty Han, to send about 65 a.d. two mandarins to the 
West with orders not to return until they should have 
found either the saint himself or his religion. Arriving in 
India, the two envoys accidentally came to know the ris- 


ing sect of Buddhism, and took it for the expected religion 
of the great saint. In consequence of this, the Chinese 
Buddhists highly esteem the saying of Confucius, applying 
it to their own reputed prophet. Omitting numerous other 
references to this same great saint in the Chinese tradi- 
tions, it must be noted that they attribute to him almost 
divine attributes, and even speak of his sufferings and his 
battles. Desguignes (Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscr. t. 45, p. 
543) maintains: "In China there exists a very old belief 
that the religion of the idols by which the primitive relig- 
ion lias been vitiated will be followed by a new religion 
which will last till the end of the world." And Ramsay 
(Disc, sur la Mythol. p. 150; cf. Nicholas, " Philos. Stud./' 
Bd. 2, p. 130) tells us: ' The books Likyki speak of a time 
when all will be restored to its primitive splendor, owing 
to the advent of a hero called Kiuntse, i.e., shepherd or 
prince, who is also named " most holy," " universal teacher," 
and " highest truth." 

d. The Later Arabians and Persians. — Passing on to the 
nations of western Asia, we meet first of all among the 
writings of the later Arabs and Persians the fable of the 
pre-Adamite Solymans. Solyman Hakki distinguished 
himself in the battle against the demons and the giants; 
but Anthalus he could not destroy, in spite of his repeated 
victories. Consulting the goddess Takuin, the mistress of 
fate, she answered him that the victory over that Solyman 
was reserved for a descendant of Adam, who would reduce 
him to his obedience and take his life in case he should 
refuse the oath of allegiance (Liiken, "Die Traditionen," 
p. 369). The bird Simmorg, the Phoenix of the Arabs and 
the Persians, revealed according to the fables of those 
nations to Thamuraz: " Another Solyman will arise out of 
Adam's race, and will surpass all in majesty and power, 
and after him no other will appear on earth " (D'Herbelot 
s. v. Soliman ben Daud, Thahamurath). These traditions 
are the more remarkable, because they are not applied by 
the Mohammedans to their prophet, but to Solomon. Now 


Solomon himself loses his magic ring and falls into the 
power of Asmodi. Subsequently, his wife receives the 
promise that the Messias should descend from her. As to 
Mohammed, he is identified with the Paraclete, his name 
Achmed agreeing in meaning with Periclyt; but notwith- 
standing all this, the Mohammedans expect the return of 
the Mahadi, their tenth Iman, born in the year 255 of their 
era. He will do battle against Antichrist, and together 
with Issa (Jesus) he will establish the reign of the millen- 

However scanty may be our knowledge of the ancient 
Egyptian traditions, we know, at least, that they expected 
an Apocatastasis, or restoration, at the end of our present 
era. The Messianic hopes of the Egyptians may, however, 
be traced in their fable of Horus, the son of Isis, and of 
Osiris. From Horus' very birth both mother and son are 
persecuted by Typhon; the son is killed and sunk to the 
depths of the lower world. But being destined as the seed 
of the woman to kill the serpent, he rises again to bind and 
slay Python (Pint, de Is. 19). Diodorus tells us that 
among the Libyans the following tradition was current: 
Amnion, driven out of his reign, predicted the coming of 
his son Dionysius, the restoration of his kingdom by the 
instrumentality of his son, and the latter's divine dignity 
and worship (Diod. iii. 73). In the light of this prophecy 
we understand why Alexander the Great claimed to be a 
son of Amnion. 

e. The Greeks. — Among the Greeks too we find Messianic 
expectations based upon Messianic prophecies. Leto or 
Latona, after her fall, must err about and is persecuted by 
the dragon Pytho, because she has received the promise 
that her seed shall conquer and slay the serpent. She 
brings forth her twins, and Apollo now represents both 
Cain (killing Hyacinthus) and the Messias (conquering 
the serpent Pytho at the foot of Mount Parnassus). But 
Greek hope was not satisfied with a past fulfilment of the 


prophecy. According to them, Apollo will return at the 
end of the iron age and restore the golden age. 

Besides Apollo, many other Messianic characters are 
known in Greek literature. We need only recall Jason, 
Epaphus, Perseus, and Hercules. All are born of a mortal 
mother, but conceived of a god ; in the case of all there is 
the characteristic persecution on the part of the bad prin- 
ciple; all are noted for their victory over the serpent or the 
dragon, and nearly all bruise the monster's head. 

The fable of Prometheus illustrates the Greek Messianic 
hope most beautifully. Riveted to the rock in punish- 
ment for his compassion with man, and fed upon by the 
never-sated vulture, the hero gives forth the oracle which 
the old goddess Themis had confided to him alone. The 
rule of Zeus is to have its end by the instrumentality of a 
son whom Zeus himself will beget of mortal seed. More 
powerful than his father, he will give Prometheus his free- 
dom (iEschyl., Prometheus vinct., vv. 906 f?.; Pind., 
Isthm. vii. 26; Apollon. Rhod., iv. 794 if.; Apollod., iii. 
13,5; Quint. Smyrn. v. 338; Schol. Horn. II. i. 519; Schol. 
Lycophr. 178). To understand the oracle right, it must 
be remembered that Zeus represented among the Greeks a 
double character: he was the highest god, but at the same 
time he was the originator of the iron age. Hence it ap- 
pears that the conqueror of the iron age and its Lord is at 
the same time the liberator of the god who suffers for the 
good of the human race. We cannot help noticing the 
difference between the pagan Faust of the Christian Goethe, 
and the Christian Prometheus of the pagan iEschylus. 
The former leaves the discord between striving humanity 
and the everlasting deity unsettled; the latter saves 
Prometheus, the representative of mankind, by the vicari- 
ous sacrifice of a benevolent god. 

/. The Germanic Races. — We find the Messianic expecta- 
tions not less flourishing among the Germanic races than 
among the Greeks, the Indians, and the other nations of 
the far East. Baldur and Tyr are, according to the 


German fable, the sons of the first parents Odin and 
Frigga. Baldur dies early by the hands of the blind 
Hodur; instead of Tyr, properly Tins or Dens, we find 
also Thor, the giant thunderer, whose role seems to agree 
exactly with that of Cain. In his Messianic capacity Thor 
reveals himself especially in his battle against the serpent 
Mitgard, which dwells deep in the abysses of the sea. But 
according to the later Edda, Thor will not conquer the 
serpent fully till about the twilight of the gods, i.e., the 
end of the present era. Paganism is here again conscious 
of the Messias' coming at the end of time in spite of the 
mythic endeavors to make the first son of man the re- 
deemer of the race. Among the more recent Messianic 
heroes must be noted Sigurd, or Sigfrid, whom the old 
Northern genealogies place in the fifth generation after 
Odin — i.e., in the time after the flood. In order to connect 
his descent with the fall in paradise, the fable starts with 
the eating of the apple. The giant woman gives the apple 
to Rerir, who eats it, and in consequence his Avife becomes 
pregnant, thus giving rise to the race of the Volsungr, 
Sigurd's family. We need not here delay over Sigfrid's 
conquering the serpent, regaining the golden treasure, and 
redeeming Brynhilde, the enchanted virgin. 

Besides these redeemers of the past, another Messias of 
the future was expected by the Germanic races. Descend- 
ing from Odin and the giant woman Gridr, Vidar will be 
the most powerful and the strongest after the Lord of 
thunder. He is now hidden, but when at the end of time 
the monsters of darkness are once more let loose, he will 
destroy the Fenrirswolf by stepping on his head or into his 
throat. For this purpose he will be shod with the cele- 
brated shoe made of all the leather strips that will be col- 
lected till the end of time. Odin and all the other gods 
will then perish, and the golden age will return. 

g. The Celtic Races. — Among the Celts we find the 
traditions concerning King Arthur and the Parzival. 
After travelling about in the world and destroying all that 


is bad, Arthur with his knights is enchanted in order to 
return at some future time, and then restore the old order 
of things. Parzival, the son of Gamuret, the biblical 
Gomer, has a brother Feirefiss, entirely unlike himself. 
After incurring a curse by the murder of the knight 
Gahewiz, he errs about in the world, redeems the sinful 
king of the holy Gral Amfortas, and reconquers that treas- 
ure; then he withdraws into the desert and does not 

h. The Esthenians. — The traditions existing among the 
Esthens concerning Kalewe Poeg, the son of Kalewa, the 
god of thunder, deserve a special mention. The father 
first prophesies to his wife the birth of a son, who is to be 
entirely like himself. The young hero's greatest deed is 
his victory over the old sorcerer in the sea Peipus. But as 
we learn in the Kalewala, while Kalewe Poeg severs the 
head of the sorcerer from his body, he loses his sword. 
The future redeemer expected by the Esthens will find 
this sword and use it. According to the Finnish version 
of the Kalewala, the hero is named Lemminkainen; in his 
youth he is killed and cut into pieces, but he will be raised 
to life after his mother has gathered all the pieces in the 
realm of the dead. He will also regain the Sampo, i.e., 
the lost treasure of paradise, in the land of the northern 

i. The Tribes of the Pacific Islands.— Messianic expecta- 
tions are also found among the wild tribes of the South Sea 
and of America. Among the Sandwich Islanders we meet 
the old tradition that their god and the first man, Rono, had 
left the island in the following manner: His wife, having 
sinned with a mortal man, had been thrown by the enraged 
husband into the depths of the sea. Penitent and sorry for 
his deed, he set out in a boat for the paradisiacal land Haiti, 
i.e., Taheiti, the mother-country of the Sandwich Islanders. 
Rono left, however, the consoling promise that at some 
future time he would return on a rich floating island, 
bringing with him all that man could desire. When Captain 


Cook first landed on the island, the inhabitants took him 
for the returning Rono; and though they killed him, 
they even now venerate his bones as those of a god. The 
expectation existing on the Society Islands, that at some 
future date a miraculous boat, " the ship of the Mawi," 
should appear, probably refers to the same tradition among 
the inhabitants that at a remote past time their god left 
their island in his boat. 

k. The Mexicans. — The Mexicans too believed that their 
beneficent god Quetzalcoatl, who had been obliged to leave 
the country after the golden age had flourished under his 
rule, would return and restore the former state of happiness. 
The old religion with its human sacrifices was then to 
cease, and the first-fruits of the earth were to be offered 
instead of men. The return of the just woman Centeotl 
would, as a matter of course, accompany that of the god. 
It is well known that the Mexicans took the Spaniards, on 
their first arrival in Mexico, for the messengers of Quetzal- 
coatl. We need only recall the words of Montezuma ad- 
dressed to the new arrivals: "We well know/' he said, 
" that the great king under whose obedience you stand is 
a descendant of our own Quetzalcoatl, who is Lord of the 
seven caverns of Navatlaka and rightful king of the seven 
nations from whom the Mexican empire has taken its rise. 
This great Quetzalcoatl has left us several prophecies, which 
we look upon as infallible truth. From these as well as 
from the records which for many centuries have been kept 
in our history, we know that he has left this land and has 
sought new lands in the East, leaving the promise that in 
time to come a nation descending from him should return 
and change our laws and our system of government." 

I. The Peruvians. — As to the Peruvians, they had very 
nearly the same traditions. Their two most remarkable 
heroes were Inka Manko Capak,the founder of the empire, 
and the Inka Virakocha, its restorer. The latter had proph- 
esied to the Peruvians that at some future period the 
Inkas should lose both their power and the worship which 


was paid them. At the same time, they expected the 
return of Virakocha, or their Messias; and an ancient 
tradition had fixed the period of salvation as following the 
twelfth generation of Inkas. In point of fact, the twelfth 
Inka, Huayna Capak, when at the point of death, heard of 
the Spaniards' arrival at the coast, and announced to the 
nobles of the realm and to his sons that now the old proph- 
ecy of the Sun, their father, should be fulfilled, and that 
the rule of the Inkas should cease with himself. Those 
strangers who had landed at the coast were no doubt the 
very men indicated by the prophecy; they would bring 
better laws, and conquer besides the kingdom of the Inkas 
many other kingdoms. The Inka Atahualpa, the son of 
Capak Huayna, saluted the Spaniard Pizarro : " Welcome 
to my lands, Capak Virakocha! " 

in. Domingo, the Algonquin, etc. — According to tradition, 
a similar Messianic hope was entertained in the island of 
Domingo, and communicated to Columbus on landing in 
the place. Even in Greenland the expectation is preva- 
lent that towards the end of time the golden age will begin, 
and the earth will assume a new and more beautiful form. 
We may also appeal to the Algonquin fables concerning 
Manabozho, or Mishapu, or Hiawatha. The Christian 
Apaches of Mexico identify Jesus with their serpent-killer, 
Tuballishine, and Tuballishine's mother with the virgin 
Mary. The traditions of the Caribbean Islands, that 
formerly a son of the god Puru had come from heaven 
and conquered the serpent, seem to recall the story of St. 
Michael fighting against the dragon (cf. Kruse, Urge- 
schichte der Esthen, pp. 176 ff. ; Kalewala, 14, 15, 39 rune; 
Kotzebue, Reise nm die AVelt, Bd. ii. p. 88; Ellis, Reise 
durch Hawaii, Deutsche Uebers., Hamburg, 1827, p. G7; 
Ellis, Polynesian Res., v. ii. p. 53; Clavigero, stor. di 
Messico, t. ii. p. 11; Humboldt, Vues des Cordill., t. i. p. 
265; Allg. Hist. d. R, Th. xiii. p. 239, 346; Allg. Gesch. von 
Amerika, Th. 2, p. 107; Garcilasso de la Vega, Hist, des 


Yncas, 1. v. c. 28; 1. ix. c. 15; Kranz, Gesch. von Groenl., 
Th. 1, p. 203). 

"With the exception of the negro tribes, concerning whose 
traditions Ave know very little, all the pagan nations of 
both the old and the new world have their own special 
Messianic prophecies, which are all said to date from the 
very beginning of man's existence on earth. According to 
all, the present iron age is to pass away when the race shall 
have reached the height of depravity. The age of sin and 
misery shall cease; even the very gods who, like jealous 
demons, guard the world at present, shall lose their power, 
and a mighty and wise ruler and hero shall spring from the 
seed of the first woman, being at the same time of divine 
origin, and shall crush the head of the demon and initiate 
an age of happiness and innocence, not unlike the original 
golden age of the world. 

n. The Romans. — a. The Etruscan Seers. — We have 
not yet mentioned the general expectation of a Saviour ex- 
isting about the time of Christ's birth. The prophecies 
referring to this subject spring from two sources: the 
Etruscan books of fate and the Sibylline predictions. The 
Etruscan seers announced, even during the civil war 
between Marius and Sulla, that the new age of restoration 
was about to begin and would embrace eight or ten 
centuries (cf. Rei agri Scr. p. 258; Jahn, Censor, de die 
nat., p. 45 adn.; Pint. Sulla vii. p. 45G; Suidas s. v. Sullas). 
About forty years later the priestly prophet Vulcatius ex- 
plained the comet appearing at Caesar's death as a sign of 
the beginning of the new era; but he is said to have been 
struck dead while uttering the prediction for thus betray- 
ing the secret of the gods (Serv. ad Virg. Eel. ix. 47). The 
restorer of the golden age was to be a son of Zeus, or rather 
of Apollo, and of a mortal mother; according to others it 
was Apollo himself. A few months before the birth of 
Augustus there happened a portent in Rome which signi- 
fied, according to the Etruscan interpreters, that nature 
was about to give forth a future king of Rome. The 


frightened senate gave orders that no child born in that 
year should be allowed to live, and it was only by the 
endeavors of those whose wives were then pregnant that 
the decree was not entered into the archives, and thus did 
not obtain the force of law (Sueton., Oetav. c. 94). 
Nigidius Figulus, who knew the Etruscan books of fate 
better than any one else understood them, predicted when 
Augustus' father came too late into the Senate on account 
of the confinement of his wife, that the Lord of the uni- 
verse had been born. Hence, Augustus assumed the char- 
acter of the prince of peace and of a son of Apollo; report 
had it that his mother had conceived him by touching 
a dragon in the temple of Apollo (Sueton., 1. c). On 
coins he called himself the Saviour of the world, "salus 
generis humani," and had himself represented as Apollo 
(cf. Patinus, Notre in August, p. 24 and Notaa in Galb. 
p. 52; Suetonius, ex recens. Graevii, etc., Trajecti ad 
Rhenum, 1703). Hence Anchises too, when predicting 
the future to ./Eneas, points to Augustus as a son of God, 
who shall restore the golden rule of Saturn and subdue 
the whole world; his advent was even then predicted by 
the oracles of the Caspian commonwealths and at the 
mouth of the Nile (Virg., iEneis vi. 792 ff.). 

/?. The Sibylline Sources. — Nor is it only the 
Etruscan seers that predicted the Messias; the Sibylline 
books are even more pronounced in this regard than the 
Etruscan books of fate. At Caesar's time the Sibylline 
announcement that a king would bring safety to the 
Roman people frightened all the republican citizens of 
Rome (Cicero, de devin. ii. 54; cf. Epist. 1. i. 1). Vir- 
gil's fourth Eclogue has been considered as a Messianic 
prophecy even by the Fathers of the Church (cf. 
Augustin., de civ. Dei, x. 27; ep. 155). We need not 
repeat that the poet himself bases his prediction on the 
Sibylline prophecies. At present we have only a Jewish- 
Christian edition of these predictions, which is un- 
doubtedly much interpolated and mutilated. The true 


Sibylline prophecies were destroyed by the burning of the 
capitol; but about 77 B.C. they were again carefully col- 
lected, so that Virgil may well refer to the original text. 
Even Horace (Carm. 1, od. 2) and Lactantius (Instit. 1. 
vii. c. 18 and 24) seems to paraphrase certain portions of 
the same predictions. The Sibylline prophecies were so 
much circulated at the time of Augustus that he found it 
necessary to have all private copies collected and burnt 
(Sueton., Octav. c. 31). The same process was repeated 
under the reign of Tiberius (cf. Hartung, "Rel. der 
Romer," Th. 1, p. 134). 

y. Despair at Non-fulfilment. — And when the 
general expectation of the pagan world seemed not to be 
fulfilled, a kind of universal despair took the place of the 
Messianic hope. The predictions concerning the end of 
the world, which too were contained in the Sibylline books, 
began to occupy men's minds, and the philosophic writers 
began to consider the way and manner in which that de- 
struction would take place. Such considerations we find 
in Seneca (Quaest. Nat. 1. iii. sub fin.), Pliny (Hist. Nat. 
vii. 1G), the younger Pliny (Sec. Epist. 1. vi. 20), Dio 
Cassius (cf. Sepp, "Leben Jesu," Bd. i. p. 331), and even 
in the works of Lactantius, who relates the opinions of 
what he calls the worldly prophets (Instit. vii. 14). 

6. Origin of Messianic Prophecy.— If it be asked 
whence these Messianic predictions could have originated 
among the pagan nations of the ancient world, the answer 
may be reduced to three or four heads: 1. On the only 
true supposition that all men descend from Adam, the 
pagan Messianic ideas may be remnants of a primeval 
revelation. And should one consider this source insuf- 
ficient to account for the numberless recollections that are 
left to the heathen nations, one might 2. admit that God 
granted from time to time a more than ordinary foresight 
to the pagan predictors of the future, or 3. appeal to the 
intercourse between the Jews and the various nations, or at 
least to the spread of the Jewish prophetic literature 


among the literary men of the ancient world. To say that 
the agreement of the various national Messianic hopes is 
due to chance is surely a most unscientific way of explain- 
ing an established historical fact. 

o. The Hebrews. — a. To Solomon. — Coming now to the 
spread of Messianic prophecy among the Hebrews, we find 
Messianic predictions in the shape of promise and threaten- 
ing in the Book of Genesis. Immediately upon the fall, 
hopes of recovery and salvation are held out ; but the manner 
in which this salvation is to be effected is left altogether 
indefinite. All that is at first declared is that it shall 
come through a child of woman (Gen. iii. 15). By degrees 
the area is limited: it is to come through the family of 
Sem (Gen. ix. 26), through the family of Abraham (Gen. 
xii. 3), of Isaac (Gen. xxii. 18), of Jacob (Gen. xxviii. 14), 
of Juda (Gen. xlix. 10). Balaam seems to say that it will 
be brought by a warlike Israelite king (Num. xxiv. 17), 
Jacob by a peaceful ruler (Gen. xlix. 10), Moses by a prophet 
like himself, i.e., a revealer of a new religious dispensation 
(Deut. xviii. 15). Nathan's announcement determines 
further that the salvation is to come through the house of 
David (II. Kings vii. 1G), and through a descendant of David, 
who himself shall be king. This promise is developed by 
David in the Messianic Psalms. Pss. xvii. (xviii.) and lx. 
(lxi.) are based on the promise communicated by Nathan, 
and do not exceed the announcement of that prophet. The 
same may be said of Ps. lxxxviii. (Ixxxix.), which was com- 
posed by a later writer. Pss. ii. and cix. (ex.) rest upon 
the same promise, but add new features to it. The son of 
David is to be the son of God (ii. 7), the anointed of the 
Lord (ii. 2), not only the king of Sion (ii. G; cix. 1), but 
the inheritor and the Lord of the whole earth (ii. 8; cix. 
G); and besides this, a priest forever after the order of 
Melchisedech (cix. 4). At the same time he is, as typified 
by his progenitor, to be full of sorrows and suffering [(Pss. 
xxi. (xxii.), Ixx. (lxxi.), ci. (cii.), cviii. (cix.)] brought 
down to the grave, yet raised to life without corruption 


[Ps. xv. (xvi.)]. In Pss. xliv. (xlv.) and lxxi. (Ixxii.) the 
sons of Core and Solomon describe his peaceful reign. 

/?. Chronological Summary.— The following table ex- 
hibits a chronological summary of the Messianic prophecies 
as they are represented by Vigouroux (Manuel Biblique, 
ii. p. 472) : 


I. Period: Adam. 

1. Divine promise given to Adam or Protevangel 

(Gen. iii. 1-15). 
II. Period: Patriarchal Period. 

2. Prophecy of Noe : blessing of Sem (Gen. ix. 


3. Third Prophecy: Promises given to the Patri- 

archs : 

A. To Abraham: 

a. First promise (Gen. xii. 1-7). 

b. Repetition of the same (Gen. xiii. 

14-17 ; xvii. 1-9). 

c. Confirmation of the same (Gen. 

xviii. 17-19). 

d. Repeated confirmation (Gen. xxii. 


B. To Isaac: Repetition of the promise 

(Gen. xxvi. 1-5). 

C. To Jacob: Repetition of the promise 

(Gen. xxviii. 10-15; cf. xxxv. 11, 12). 

4. Fourth Prophecy: Jacob's blessing (Gen. xlix. 

III. Period: Moses. 

5. Fifth Prophecy: Balaam's prediction (Num. 

xxiv. 17). 
G. Sixth Prophecy: Moses prophesies (Deut. xviii. 



I. Prophecies contained in the historical books: 

1. Canticle of Anna (I. Kings ii. 10). 

2. Davidic promises (II. Kings vii. 8-16; cf. III. 

Kings xi. 29-39). 
II. Prophecies contained in the Psalms: 

1. The glorious Messias (Pss. ii., xliv., lxxi., cix.). 

2. The suffering Messias (Pss. xv., xxi., xxxix., 

xl., lxviii.). 
III. Prophecies among the Gentiles (Job xix. 21, 27). 


8. Jeremiasii. 21; iii.1-19; 

xi. 19 ; xxiii. 1-8 ; 
xxxi.; xxxiii. 

9. Baruch iii. 24-38. 

10. Ezechielxi. 14-21; xvii. 

22-24; xxxiv. 20-31; 
xxxvi. 10-32; xxxvii. 

11. Daniel ii.; vii.; ix. 21- 

1. Joel ii. 28-32. 

2. Jonas (as type) ii. 1. 

3. Amos ix. 11. 

4. Osee i.-iii.; vi.; xi. 1; 


5. Micheas iv.-v. 
C. Isaias ii.— iv. ; v.; vi.; vii.— 

ix.; xi. ; xii.; xxviii.; 
xxix. 14; xxxiii. 18; 
xxxv.; xl. 1-11; xl. 1- 
9; xlix.; 1.; Iii.; liii.; 
liv. , lv.; lix.; Ix. ; lxi. ; 
lxiii. 1-6; Ixv. ; lxvi. 
7. Nahum i. 15. 

Appendix: Books immediately preceding the advent of 
Christ: I. Mach. iv. 46; xiv. 41; Wisd. ii. 11-20. 

y. From Solomon to Ezechias. — Between Solomon and 
Ezechias intervened some two hundred years, during which 
the voice of prophecy was silent. The Messianic con- 
ception entertained at this time by the Jews may have 
been that of a king of the royal house of David, who should 
arise and gather under his peaceful sceptre both his own 
people and the Gentile nations. Sufficient allusion to his 
prophetical and priestly offices had been made to create 
thoughtful consideration; but as yet there was no clear 



Aggeus ii. 1-10. 


Zacharias ii. 8-13.; iii.; 

vi. 9-15; ix. ; xii. -xiv. 


Malachias i. 10, 11; iii. 

1-6; iv. 5, 6. 


delineation of these Messianic characteristics. It was 
reserved for the prophets to bring out these features more 

6. The Prophets. — The seventeen prophets may be 
divided into four groups: 1. The prophets of the Northern 
Kingdom, 896-722 B.C. (041): Osee, Amos, Joel, Jonas; 
2. The prophets of the Southern Kingdom, 889-588 B.C.: 
Isaias, Jeremias, Baruch, Abdias, Micheas, Nahum, Haba- 
cuc, Sophonias; 3. The prophets of the Captivity, 594-53G 
B.C. : Ezechiel and Daniel; 4. The prophets of the Return, 
530-424 B.C.: Aggeus, Zach arias, Malachias. In this great 
period of prophecy there is no longer any chronological 
development of Messianic prophecy, as in the earlier period, 
previous to Solomon. Each prophet adds a feature, more 
or less clear. Combine the features, and we have a portrait. 
But it does no longer grow gradually and perceptibly 
under the hands of the several artists. Here then the task 
of tracing the chronological progress of the Messianic 
revelation comes to an end: its culminating point may be 
seen in the prophecy of Is. lii. 13-15 and liii. We here 
read of the Servant of God, lowly and despised, full of 
grief and suffering, oppressed, condemned as a malefactor, 
and put to death. But his sufferings are not for his own 
sake, for he had never been guilty of fraud or violence: 
they are spontaneously undergone, patiently borne, and vica- 
rious in their nature ; by God's special appointment they have 
an atoning, reconciling, and justifying efficacy. The result 
of his sacrificial offering is to be his exaltation and triumph. 
By the path of humiliation and expiatory suffering he is to 
reach the state of glory foreshown by David and Solomon. 
The proplietic character of the Messias is described by 
Isaias in other parts of his book, as the atoning work is 
predicted in chapters lii. and liii. 

e. Result. — By the time of Ezechias, therefore, — for the 
theory of a Deutero-Isaias living in the days of the Captivity 
has never been satisfactorily established, — the portrait of 
the God-man, at once King, Priest, Prophet, and Redeemer, 



had been drawn in all its essential features. The con- 
temporary and later prophets added certain particulars and 
details (cf. Mich. v. 2; Dan. vii. 9; Zach. vi. 13; Mai. iv. 2), 
and then the conception was left to await its realization 
after an interval of some four hundred years from the date 
of the last Hebrew prophet. 

C. Division of Prophetical Books. — The Jews divide 
the prophetical books into two classes, one of which con- 
tains the prophetical historical writings, the other the 
prophetical predictive ones. The first class embraces 
the books of Josne, Judges, I., II., III., IV. Kings; 
the later prophets, who constitute the second class, 
are divided into the Greater and the Lesser Prophets. 
Isaias, Jeremias, and Ezechiel are the Greater Prophets; 
Daniel, who is by us reckoned as a Greater Prophet, stands 
in the Hebrew text between Esther and Esdras. This 
position is owing to the exceptional character of his office 
(Smith, "Diction, of Bible," under Baruch] Hengstenberg, 
" Christology," ii.; Delitzsch, " Messian. Prophecy," etc.). 

if. Chronology of the Prophets.— Authorities do not 
agree concerning the chronological order of the prophets. 
A few probable chronological arrangements are exhibited 
in the following table: 


Hebr. Text 


De Wette. 





















































Nairn m. 






















. Sophonias. 























(The Greater Prophets are not in these lists.) 



















d. Other Prophets.— It must not, however, be imagined 
that the seventeen prophets enumerated were the only per- 
sons in the Old Testament who were endowed with the pro- 
phetic gift. According to St. Clement of Alexandria (Strom, 
i. 21, M. 8, 869), there lived before the birth of Jesus 
Christ thirty-five prophets, including the five pre-Mosaic 
ones: Adam, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and five 
prophetesses: Sara, Rebecca, Mary the sister of Moses, 
Debbora, and Holda. The Jews themselves claim to have 
had forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses (Seder 
01am 21 ; cf. Bartolocci, Biblioth. Rabb. iii. p. 457; Calmet. 
Prol. in Prophet. 2); St. Epiphanius (Fragm.; cf. Coteler, 
Not. in Canon. Apost. iv. G) maintains that up to the time 
of Agabus (Acts xi. 28) there existed seventy-three proph- 
ets, and between Sara and the Blessed Virgin he enumerates 
ten prophetesses. Since it seems to be certain that from 
the time of Moses down to the time of Malachias there 
never failed a prophet in Israel to explain the Law to the 
people, and to prepare it for the coming Christian dispen- 
sation, we must hold with Comely (Introduct., II. ii. p. 280) 
that the true number of prophets is known to God alone. 
Only a few names are mentioned in Scripture besides the 
seventeen commonly enumerated, who are said to have had. 
the prophetic spirit. Among these are: Gad and Nathan, 
Ahias and Addo, Semeias and Azarias, Hanani and Jehu, 
Jahaziel and Eliezer, Elias and Eliseus, Oded and Urias, 
Holda and Debbora. The majority of the prophetic names 
have not come down to us, either because their bearers never 
wrote down their inspired predictions, or they played too 
insignificant a part in the history of the theocratic king- 
dom (cf. I. Kings iii. 1 ft.; x. 5 ff.; xix. 20 fl\; xxii. 5 ft*.; 
II. ft.; vii. 1 ft.: xii. 1 ff; III. Kings i. 8 ft.; 
xi. 29 ff.; I. Par. xxix.29; II. Par. ix. 29; III. Kings xii. 15; 
xiv. 1; xiii. 1 ff.; xii. 22 ft.; xvi. 1 ft.; xvii. 1-4; II. Par. 
xv. 1; etc.). 




1. Verbal Definition.— a. Greek Etymology.— The 
meaning of the word prophecy in English is much narrower 
than that of 7tpo<pr]reia in Greek. Hence we must return 
to the original Greek meaning of the word, in order to obtain 
an accurate idea of what was meant by " prophets." Eusebius 
(Demonstratio Evang. v. Proleg. M. 22, 345) derives the 
Greek 7rpocf)T/Ttjs from rtpocpaiveiv, to show beforehand, 
because God foreshows to the prophet what is to happen in 
the future. St. Thomas (Summa Theol. IP. ii ae ., q. 171, a. 
1) gives a similar derivation, compounding the word out 
of npo and cftaros, because to the prophet appears what 
is yet far off. Suarez rejects this etymology (De fide disp. 
viii. s. 3) as having no foundation in the Greek. He might 
have said the same about another derivation which St. 
Thomas has taken from St. Isidore (Etymol. vii. 8; M. 82, 
283) and which also Sts. Basil (Comm. in Is. 102; M. 30. 
284), Chrysostom (In illud "Vidi Dominum. horn. 2,3; 
M. 56, 111), and Gregory (In Ezech. i. horn. 1, 1; M. 76, 
78G) had adopted, explaining prophet from npofiavai, as 
a predictor of the future. The particle npo has, therefore, 
a temporal meaning in this explanation. Sts. Chrysostom 
(Synops. S.S., M. 56, 317) and Gregory (1. c), as well, as 
Theodoretus (In Psalm. Preef.; M. 80, 861), well under- 
stood that in reality the prophetic office was not limited 
to predicting the future. Cremer has suggested a local 
signification for the particle npo (Bibl. Theol., Worter- 
buch der neutestamentl. Griicitiit, ed. 4, Gotha, 1886, p. 
826), so that "prophet" means any one speaking in public. 


Others have suggested that npocpavai means in general 
" to speak," so that any speaker may be called a prophet. 
H. Stephanus (Lexic. ed. Hase and Dindorf, s. v.; vi. 
2094; cf. Bleek Wellhausen, Einleitung, p. 308) is of 
opinion that where, in classical writers, interpretation is 
called prophecy, the preposition npo is used instead of 
V7ro; but such a substitution is by no means necessary in 
order to explain those passages. For as in 7tpo/3ov\os, 
7rp6diK0S, and other words the npo signifies "instead of," 
so 7tpo(prjrriS denotes one who speaks instead of another, 
especially of a god (cf. Liddell and Scott, s. v.), thus ex- 
plaining the will of that god. Hence the primary meaning 
of 7Tpo(prfTtfi is " interpreter." Apollo is called a prophet 
because he is the interpreter of Zeus (iEsch. Eumen. 19); 
poets are called prophets or interpreters of the muses 
(Plato, Phaed. 262 D); the priests attached to the temples 
are prophets, because they explain the oracles delivered by 
the unconscious and inspired juavris (Plato, Tim. 72 B; 
Herod, vii. Ill, note ed. Baehr). 

b, Hebrew Etymology. — This may be called the classical 
use of the word npocprfT?]^. If its biblical meaning be con- 
sidered, we must keep in mind that it was introduced into 
the Testament version by the LXX. Now the LXX. 
translate Nabi (^ n ?) always, and Roeh (*"^P) sometimes, 
by npocprirrfi (cf. I. Par. xxvi. 28; II. Par. xvi. 7, 10). Con- 
sequently, the latter expression has the meaning of the 
former. As to Nabi, it is uncertain whether it is an active, 
a passive, or an intransitive noun. 

a. Intransitive Meaning. — Ewalcl, Fleischer, Delitzsch, 
Konig, Miilau, Volck, Briggs, and others maintain that the 
noun is intransitive. Their reasons may be reduced to the 
following: 1. Nabi is derived from the stem Naba (y^2, 
Nn:), which is not found in the active or the passive 
species, but only in the reflexive, either Niphal or Hithpael. 
2. Nabi is allied to Nub (^"-), which is used of the com- 
ing forth of fruit. Thus in Prov. x. 31: "The mouth 
of the just shall bring forth wisdom." 3. Nabi is similar 


to the Arabic Naba'a, to rise up, to become audible, to pro- 
claim, to name; Nabi is therefore a spokesman, or preacher 
(cf. Briggs, "Messianic Prophecy," p. 15, n. 2). 

f3. Passive Meaning. — Tholuck,Gesenius,Kuenen, Hup- 
feld, Riehm, Schultz, Bunsen, Davidson, and others regard 
Nabi as a passive noun. The following are some of their 
reasons : 1 . Naba, the stem of Nabi, is related to Naba " to 
boil up/' " pour forth," so that the prophet is one caused 
to boil over with the divine word. 2. Rachash (OT1) in 
Ps. xlv. 2 furnishes a similar expression for the utter- 
ance of a divinely inspired agent. 3. N'um (cs:) is a pas- 
sive form, and has a meaning similar to Nabi. The op- 
ponents of the present view grant that N'um has a passive 
form and meaning, but they deny that Nabi is like it in 
form. 4. The Arabic Naba' a is more likely a denominative, 
and its stem-noun is derived from the Hebrew. Hence 
the Hebrew form Nabi must not be determined by means 
of the Arabic, but the Arabic must be investigated by 
means of the Hebrew. The opponents freely admit that 
this is a satisfactory solution of their argument based on 
the Arabic alone, but they claim that it does not explain the 
Assyrian form. 

y. Active Meaning. — Ewald, Hgevernick, Ohler, Heng- 
stenberg, Bleek, Lee, Pusey, McOaul, F first, Reinke, and 
others maintain that Nabi is an active form. They too 
have their special reasons : 1 . The active sense of " announc- 
ing," " pouring forth the declaration of God," is more in 
accordance with the use of the word. The passive sense 
may describe the state of the prophet while inspired, but 
the active is descriptive of the prophetic office. 2. The 
stem must be derived from the root " Ba " (cf. Greek " fa," 
Latin "fari"), and the prefix Na. Hence the true mean- 
ing of Nabi is to "overcome one in speaking," "to con- 
vince" (cf. Elliott, "Old Test. Proph.," p. 21). 

c. Use of the Word: a. Nabi.— Exodus iv. 14-16 may be 
regarded as the classical passage giving the meaning of 
Nabi: "The Lord being angry at Moses, said: Aaron the 


Levite is thy brother; I know that he is eloquent. Behold, 
he cometh forth to meet thee, and seeing thee shall be glad 
at heart. Speak to him, and put My words in his mouth, 
and I will be in thy mouth, and in his mouth, and will 
show you what you must do; he shall spoak in thy stead 
to the people, and shall be thy mouth: but thou shalt be 
to him in those things that pertain to God." 

If we compare Exodus vii. 1 with this passage, we shall 
gain a clear insight into the meaning of Nabi: "And the 
Lord said to Moses: Behold, I have appointed thee the 
God of Pharao, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy 
prophet." Hence Aaron is called the Nabi of Moses, be- 
cause he shall speak in Moses" stead to the people, and 
shall be the mouth of Moses. It matters little whether 
the words that Moses will put into Aaron's mouth refer to 
the past, the present, or the future, or whether they con- 
tain universal truths abstracting from all time — in any case 
Aaron will be Moses' prophet. 

fi. Roeh and Chozek. — The other word Avhich the 
LXX. translate by Ttpoqn'frrjZ is Roeh. But Chozeh too, like 
Roeh, signifies " one who sees," and is often used -in the 
Old Testament in this meaning. The three words Nabi, 
Roeh, Chozeh, seem to be contrasted with one another in 
I. Par. xxix. 29 : " Now the acts of King David first and 
last are written in the book of Samuel the seer (Roeh), and 
in the book of Nathan the prophet (Nabi), and in the 
book of Gad the seer (Chozeh)." Roeh is a title almost 
appropriated to Samuel. It occurs eleven times in the 
Bible, and in seven of these instances it is applied to 
Samuel (I. Kings ix. 9, 11, 18, 19; I. Par. ix. 22; xxvi. 
28; xix. 29), in two instances it applies to Hanani (II. Par. 
xvi. 7, 10), once it designates Sadoc (II. Kings xv. 27), and 
in Is. xxx. 10 it is not applied to any definite person. 
Roeh was superseded in its general use by the word Nabi, 
which Samuel, who is himself called Nabi, as well as Roeh 
(I. Kings iii. 20; II. Par. xxxv. 18), appears to have revived 
after a period of desuetude, and to have applied to the 


prophets organized by him. The verb Raah, whence Roeh 
is derived, is the common prose- expression signifying " to 
see/' while the verb Chazah, whence Chozeh is obtained, 
has a more poetic coloring. Chozeh rarely occurs outside 
the Books Paral., but Chazon regularly signifies vision. 

y. Difference of Use. — It has been much debated 
whether there is any difference in the usage of the three 
words, and in what that difference consists. The various 
opinions may be reduced to the following classes: 1. Ilaev- 
ernick (Einleitung, Th. 1, Abth. 1, p. 5G) considers Nabi 
as the title of those who officially belonged to the prophetic 
order, but Roeh and Chozeh as designations of those who 
received a prophetical revelation. 2. Dr. Lee (Inspiration 
of Holy Scripture, p. 543) agrees with Haevernick as to 
the meaning of Nabi; Roeh he identifies with Nabi rather 
than with Chozeh in meaning, and Chozeh he explains as 
denoting a prophet especially attached to the royal house 
(II. Kings xxiv. 11; I. Par. xxi. 9; II. Par. xxix. 25). 3. 
Dean Stanley (Lectures on the Jewish Church, xxviii., 
xxix.) is of opinion that Roeh was the oldest name of the 
prophetic office, superseded by Nabi shortly after Samuel's 
time; Chozeh he represents as another antique title. We 
need hardly state that there is no sufficient ground for the 
latter opinion. On examination we find that Nabi existed 
before and after and alongside of both Roeh and Chozeh, 
but that Chozeh is a little more modern than Roeh. 4. 
Since there is nothing in the word Chozeh to denote the 
relation of the prophet to the king, and since a prophet 
appears to have been attached only to David, and possibly 
to Manasses (II. Par. xxxiii. 18), it would seem that the 
same persons are designated by the three words Nabi, 
Roeh, and Chozeh. The last two titles refer to the prophet's 
power of seeing the visions presented to him by God, the 
first to his function of revealing and proclaiming God's 
truth to men. This agrees with St. Gregory Nazianzen's 
description of Ezechiel: o tgov ^.eyaXoor enomifi koli 
eZrfyrjrrfS ^.varr/pioDy (Or. 28). 


d. Other Names of Prophets. — It may not be out of 
place to mention here a few of the other titles by which 
the prophets are designated in the Old Testament. The 
following seem to deserve special attention : " Malakh 
Jahveh" (JTflT ^x^), or messenger of the Lord (Is. xliv. 
2G; Agg. i. 13; Mai. iii. 1), " ish elohim" (tTWH ttftt), 
or man of God (I. Kings ii. 27; ix. G), "'bed Jahveh" 
(mrr ^y), or servant of the Lord (Is. xx. 3; Am. iii. 7; 
Jer. vii. 25; xxv. 4 . . . ), " ro'eh " 1 ? -1 ), or shepherd 
(Jer. xvii. 1G; Zach. xi. 4), "shomer" froW), or guard 
(Is. lxii. G; Hab. ii. 1), "tsopeh" p™*), or scout (Am. 
iii. 6; Is. lvi. 10; Jer. vi. 17; Ezech. iii. 17 . . . ), 
"bachon" ("P 71 ?), or approver (cf. Zschokke, "Theologie 
der Propheten," Freiburg, 1877, pp. 354 if.). The reader 
hardly needs to be reminded that these names express 
nothing but the various aspects under which the prophet 
may be regarded. 

2. Definition from Effects. — «. New Testament. — St. 
Paul (I. Cor. xiv. 3) has well summed up the prophetic func- 
tions and characteristics : " He that prophesied," the 
apostle says, " speaketh to men unto edification and exhorta- 
tion and comfort." Unto edification the prophets speak to 
men when as divinely inspired theologians they teach the 
people what to believe and what to do in order to insure 
their eternal salvation. Unto exhortation the prophets 
speak when they pour forth their powerful and efficacious 
pleadings in order to soften and move men's hearts. Unto 
comfort finally do the prophets speak when they predict 
the future glory of the chosen people, and the rejection of 
the gentile world, the end of the Old Dispensation, and the 
approaching establishment of the Church. For the Law 
and the Prophets have their centre in Christ, so that 
prophecy is the figure of Christ as Christ is the fulfilment 
of prophecy (cf. Goldhagen, Introductio, ii. p. 354; a Lap., 
In prophet, prooem. iii.). Becanus (Anal. V. et N. Test., 
viii. qu. 2) maintains that the primary end of the prordlets is 
to teach and reform the people in the true worship of God, 


and thus prepare them for the coming of Christ (cf. Paul 
Scholz, "Theol. d. A. B.," pp. 77 ff.; Knabenbauer, "Der 
Prophet Isaias," Freiburg, 1881, p. 5). Hence we may call 
the prophets the supreme and authentic teachers instituted 
by God to preserve, explain, and evolve the Mosaic covenant 
and to prepare the Christian dispensation. 

b. Old Testament. — a. Prophetic Authority extends 
to all Israelites. — If this statement stands in need of any 
further proof, it may be confirmed from the Old Testament 
history. God says to Ezechiel (iii. 17-19): "Son of Man, 
I have made thee a watchman to the house of Israel, and 
thou shalt hear the word out of my month, and shalt tell 
it them from me. If when I say to the wicked : Thou shalt 
surely die, thou declare it not to him, that he may be con- 
verted from his wicked way and live: the same wicked 
man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood 
at thy hand. But if thou give warning to the wicked, and 
lie be not converted from his wickedness and from his evil 
way, he indeed shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast de- 
livered thy soul." Consequently we find that the prophets 
exhorted and warned kings, priests, and the influential 
persons of their time with the same liberty with which 
they spoke of the waywardness of the poor and the lowly. 
Samuel announces the coming judgment to Heli and Saul, 
Elias faithfully fulfils his mission at the court or Achab, 
and similar instances from the Old Testament might be 
multiplied indefinitely (cf. I. Kings ii. 27; xiii. 10-14; 
xv. 12-30; II. Kings xii. 1 ff.; III. Kings xi. 29 f.; II. 
Par. xvi. 7; xix. 2; Is. i. 10 1; vii. 1 ff.). 

j3. Embraces Private Matters. — The authority of the 
prophets not only extended over all the Israelites, but em- 
braced also nil the details of their private, public, and 
religious life. St. Jerome says that ninny examples prove 
i he existence of the custom among the Jews to nsk Cod 
by menus of His prophets whatever they desired to know 
(In Jj^ech. xx. 1). Thus SjiuI asks Samuel concerning the 
lost asses, Jeroboam sends his wife to ask the prophet 


Ahias concerning his sick son, Ochozias is upbraided for 
consulting Beelzebub, the god of Accaron, rather than 
Jehovah himself about the issue of his infirmity (cf. I. 
Kings ix. 3 ft*.; III. Kings xiv. 1 ft.; IV. Kings i. 2 If.; 
IV. Kings v. 15 ft.). 

y. Political Affairs. — The influence of the prophets 
in affairs of state was much more important than their au- 
thority in private matters. Even after God had granted 
kings to his people, he himself retained the supreme 
authority over it. The prophets constantly watched that 
the kings might rule according to the divine law. Samuel 
elected the first king, wrote the constitution of the new 
kingdom, rejected the sovereign in the name of God, sub- 
stituting David in his place ; the prophets following 
Samuel are constantly engaged in directing and instruct- 
ing David's successors. Nor was their office strictly 
limited to the kings of Israel. Foreign nations and rulers 
were at times the object of their prophetic warnings and 
threats (cf. Is. viii. 19 ; xxx. 2; Jer. xxxvii. 3; xlii. 2; i. 10; 
xxv. 15; xl.-li.; Is. ii. 7-9; xxxi. 1; viii. G; xiii.-xxvii.; 
I. Kings viii. 4; x. 25; xv. 23-28; xvi. 1 ff.; III. Kings xii. 
22 ff.; xiii. 1 ft'.; xiv. 7 ft.; II. Par. xvi. 7 f.; xviii. 6; xix. 
2 f.; xx. 14 ft.; xxv. 7; III. Kings xix. 15; IV. Kings viii. 
10 ff.; Ezech. xxv.-xxxii.; Knabenb., Stimmen, 1880, xviii. 
p. 274). 

6. Keligious Questions. — Throughout their work it was 
the constant aim of the prophets to preserve and confirm 
the Mosaic covenant, and to prepare Israel for the new 
Christian dispensation. Hence their special care was always 
directed to the increase and the furtherance of the national 
religious life. Witness their constant war against idolatry, 
their incessant endeavor to stir up their fellow-citizens to 
the one true worship. At the same time they are not 
content with a merely external worship. They inculcate 
the principle that obedience is better than sacrifice, and 
that humility is more excellent than the fat of goats (I. 
Kings xv. 22 ft.). " Wash yourselves, be clean, take away 


the evil of your devices from my eyes, cease to do per- 
versely, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the op- 
pressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow," such 
are the exhortations we find in the prophet Isaias (i. 1G f.). 
Meanwhile, it would be a mistake to think that the prophets 
neglected the observance of the ritual law or thought little 
of it. They repeatedly insist on this observance too, and 
even add new determinations and explanations of the law 
promulgated by Moses. " Blessed is the man," says Isaias 
(lvi. 2 ff.), "that doth this, and the son of man that shall 
lay hold on this: that keepeth the Sabbath from profan- 
ing it, that keepeth his hands from doing any evil." And 
again (lxvi. 17) : " They that were sanctified and thought 
themselves clean in the gardens behind the gate within, 
they that did eat swine's flesh, and the abomination and 
the mouse; they shall be consumed together, saith the 
Lord" (cf. Jer. xvii. 20-27; xxxiii. 17 f.; xliv. 21; 
Ezech.xx. 12 ff.; xxii. 8; IV. Kings xvii. 13; iv.23-42; II. 
Par. xxix. 25). But the most important function of the 
prophets in regard to the religious life was to increase the 
deposit of faith, and to keep the eyes of the pious Israelites 
on the glorious Messianic future, thus offering them con- 
solation and strength to bear up under the heavy trials 
and national calamities which were constantly befalling 
them (cf. Comely, Introduct. U. T. II. ii., pp. 271 ff.; 
Elliott, " Old Testament Prophecy," New York, 1889, pp. 

3. Definition from Psychological Condition of the 
PROPHET. — Thus far we have drawn a description of the 
Old Testament prophets from the effect they were in- 
tended to produce on the Jewish nation. Zachary in his 
celebrated hymn of thanksgiving has well described the 
moral effects produced by the prophets on their contem- 
poraries (St. Luke i. 7G-79) : "And thou child shalt be 
called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go be- 
fore the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, to give 
knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of 


their sins, through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in 
which the Orient from on high hath visited us, to en- 
lighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of 
death, to direct our feet into the way of peace." It is now 
incumbent on us to describe the Old Testament prophets 
according to the physical condition in which they received 
the divine communications, referring either to the future or 
to the present. 

a. Purely Intellectual or Sensible. — From what has 
been said thus far, it is plain that prophecy is a super- 
natural fact, i.e. — a fact tending, at least indirectly, to a 
supernatural end. But this of itself does not throw much 
light on the psychological condition of the projmet while 
he is under the divine inspiration. St. Thomas (IP 1 . ii ae ., 
q. 174, a. 2, 3) and Suarez (IIP 1 , pars, q. 30, a. 4, disp. ix., 
sect. 2) tell us that prophecy is either purely intellectual 
or sensible. In the former case, the prophetic communi- 
cation is given directly to the intellect without the inter- 
vention of any sensible image. This seems to happen very 
rarely, and in the Sacred Scriptures we know of no other 
instance except that of St. Paul (II. Cor. xii. 2): " I know 
a man in Christ above fourteen years ago — whether in the 
body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not — God 
knoweth — such an one rapt even to the third heaven." 

b. Seven Kinds of Sensible Prophecy. — The second man- 
ner of prophetic inspiration, or that by means of a sensi- 
ble medium, is subdivided by St. Thomas into seven classes: 
The first is ecstasy or spiritual rapture, such as we find in 
St. Peter when he saw the linen cloth filled with the 
divers kinds of animals; the second is vision, as we find in 
the case of the prophet Isaias, where he says : " I saw the 
Lord sitting"; the third class is the prophetic dream, as 
Jacob had when in his sleep he saw the miraculous ladder 
(Gen. xxii. 12) ; the fourth is the miraculous cloud, such 
as appeared to Moses; the fifth is the voice from heaven, 
like that which Abraham heard when about to sacrifice 
his son Isaac (Gen. xxii. 12); the sixth is the parable, such 


as Balaam received (Num. xxiii. 7); the seventh is the 
condition of being filled with the Holy Spirit, as were 
nearly all the prophets. Though this division is very in- 
genious, it is not altogether satisfactory. The seventh 
class, e.g., seems to embrace all the other six; the dis- 
tinction between vision and ecstasy is hard to draw for 
one who does not know the difference by experience. Per- 
haps the following classification will be found more intel- 
ligible, since it reduces the seven kinds of sensible prophecy 
to three. 

a. Words. — There is in the first place the prophetic 
communication by means of words (cf. Vigouroux, " Manuel 
Biblique," t. i. pp. 4G1 ff.; Trochon, "Introduction gene- 
rale," p. xii.). Not as if there were always question of 
articulate language striking the prophet's bodily ear, but 
there is, at least, an internal voice, or the sensation repre- 
senting certain articulate sounds. Many divine communi- 
cations happened in this manner, though in a number of 
instances (I. Kings iii. 4; Ex. iii. 4, etc.) really articulate 
sound seems to have existed. 

ft. Visions. — The second manner of sensible prophetic 
communication is the vision, instances of which occur fre- 
quently in the prophets, especially in the case of Ezechiel 
(i. 4 ; ii. 9 ; viii. 2 ; x. 1 ; xxxvii. 1 ; xl. 2 ; Is. vi. 2, etc.). If it 
be asked in what these visions consisted, there is a diversity 
of opinion. Some think that in the case of visions the 
prophet was really acted upon by external objects, i.e., 
God produced the objects which the prophet saw outside 
of the prophet. Others are of opinion that in case of 
vision God produced the sensation only in the prophet's 
interior, so that nothing external corresponded with the 
prophetic vision. St. Jerome embraces this second opinion 
(M. Patrol. Lat. t. xxv. col. 347), where he speaks of 
Ezechiel's well-known vision of the dry bones. " Eduxit 
eum in spiritu, non in corpore, sed extra corpus " are the 
words of the holy Doctor. In any case, the visions of 
the prophets were not mere fictions, but they were really 


produced by God, either interiorly (directly) or by means 
of external objects (indirectly) (cf. Vigouroux, 1. a, p. 
462; Comely, " Introduct." II. ii. pp. 291 f.). 

1. Views of Philo, etc. — Here the question arises whether 
the prophets, when actually seeing the prophetic visions or 
hearing the prophetic words, were always in a state of un- 
consciousness. Philo and the Alexandrian school answer 
in the affirmative. "The human understanding," says 
Philo (Quis rerum divin. haer., t. i. p. 511), "leaves when 
the divine spirit arrives, and when the latter leaves the 
former returns to its home; for the mortal must not dwell 
with the immortal." The same writer (He vita Mosis, 1. i. 
i ii.p. 124) describes Balaam as an unconscious instrument 
through which God spoke to men. In the writings of 
Josephus (Antiq. IV. vi.) Balaam excuses himself before 
Balak on a similar principle. Prophecy is by these writers 
altogether identified with the pagan soothsaying. The 
Montanists adopted the same view of prophecy, as we see 
from the writings of Tertullian (Adv. Marc. iv. 22) : " We 
hold that an ecstasy of grace, i.e., unconsciousness, is part 
of the new prophecy. For man constituted in spirit, espe- 
cially when he sees the divine glory, or when God speaks 
through him, necessarily loses his sensibility, being over- 
shadowed by the divine power; and about this there is a 
difference of opinion between us and the Psychists [Catho- 
lics]." And according to this view of Philo, the pagan 
philosophers, and the Montanists, the so-called ecstasy 
lasted not only while the divine communication was made, 
but also while the prophet communicated the same to 

2. This Theory Rejected.— The Fathers of the Church 
are unanimous in combating this view of the prophetic 
state. Miltiades composed a whole book against it (Euse- 
bius, Hist. Eccl. v. 17); Origen and St. Basil insist on 
the difference between the prophet and the unconscious 
soothsayer; St. Jerome (In Nahnm, prooem.) says: "The 
prophet does not speak in ecstasy, as Montanus, Prisca, 


and Maxillima insanely maintain, but what he prophesies 
he fully understands." And again, the same Saint says 
(In Is. prooem.) : " The prophets did not, as Montanus 
with his insane women dreams, speak in ecstasy, so as not 
to understand their own words, and remain ignorant while 
instructing others." St. Chrysostom (Horn. xxix. in epist. 
{id Corinth.) is still more explicit: " This is the peculiarity 
of the "mantis" (fAavns), to be beside himself, to suffer 
constraint, to be struck, to be stretched, to be dragged like 
a madman. The prophet, however, is not so, but he speaks 
everything with calm understanding and with sound self- 
possession, and knowing what he proclaims, so that we can 
distinguish between the mantis and the prophet even be- 
fore the fulfilment." 

3. The Prophet* Passive in their Visions. — At the same 
time the Fathers use very clear and forcible terms to show 
that the prophets were passive under the divine inspira- 
tion, though they make a clear distinction between heathen 
soothsaying and Montanist ecstasy on the one side and 
Hebrew prophecy on the other. Thus the Fathers describe 
the prophets as passive instruments, as a flute (Athena- 
goras, Leg. pro Christianis, c. ix.; Clement of Alex., Cohort, 
ad Gent. c. i.), or a lyre (Justin Martyr, Cohort, ad 
Graecos, c. viii.; Ephraem. Syr., Rhythm, xxix.; Chrysost., 
ad popul. Antioch., Horn. i. t. ii.), or a pen (St. Gregory 
the Great, Praaf. in Mor. Job). Expressions such as these 
(many of which are collected by Dr. Lee, Appendix G) 
must be set against the passages which were directed 
against the Montanists. The biblical account of the 
individual prophets confirms this view of the patristic 
writers. Jonas and Ezechiel even resist and struggle 
against the divine communication, but still they finally act 
according to their impulse from on high. 

y. Dreams. — The third manner of sensible prophetic com- 
munication is the dream; it differs from the vision, because 
the latter happens in the waking state, while the former tarkes 
place in the sleep. What is told us of Nathan (II. Kiugs 


vii. 4) shows that the vision may be had during the night- 
time. Instances of divine communication in the dream 
occur repeatedly in the Old Testament (Gen. xx. 3-6 ; 
xxviii. 12-14; I. Kings xxviii. 6; Joel ii. 28; Dan. ii.; Job 
xxxiii. 14-16). Even the gift of interpreting dreams is rep- 
resented as a special favor of God, which the false proph- 
ets pretended at times to possess (Jer. xxiii. 25, 27, 28). 
It is surprising how any one can confound the vision with 
the dream as Smith (Dictionary of the Bible, see Prop7iet) 
seems to do. 

6. Ecstasy not Excluded. — By classifying the sensible 
prophetic communication as hearing, seeing, and dreaming, 
we do not wish to exclude the ecstatic state from the j)os- 
sible conditions in which the prophet may find himself at 
the time he receives the divine communication. Such a 
state seems to be described in Job (iv. 13-16; xxxiii. 15), 
and more plainly in the Book of Daniel. In the case of 
Daniel we find first a deep sleep (viii. 18; x. 9) accom- 
panied by terror (viii. 17; x. 8). Next, he is raised up 
(viii. 18) on his hands and knees, and then on his feet 
(x. 10, 11). He then receives the divine revelation (viii. 
19; x. 12), after which he falls to the ground in a swoon 
(x. 15, 17); he is faint, sick, and astonished (viii. 27; cf. 
Smith, " Dictionary of the Bible/' see Prophet). We may 
compare with this description the state of the apostles at 
the transfiguration, of St. Peter before the divine commis- 
sion to receive the Gentiles into the Church (Acts x. 10; 
xi. 5), of St. Paul when he was commanded to devote him- 
self to the conversion of the Gentiles (Acts xxii. 17), and 
again when he was caught up into the third heaven (II. 
Cor. xii. 1) ; finally of St. John when he received his mes- 
sage for the seven churches (Apoc. i. 10). But while we 
fully grant the possibility that a prophet may be in such a 
supernatural state when he receives his message, we at the 
same time maintain that the message itself is communi- 
cated to him as a vision, or as an audible voice, or as a 
dream, unless it be purely intellectual. 


e. Prophetic Certainty. — It may be asked : How did 
the prophets know that what they saw or heard or dreamed 
was a divine message, and not an illusion of the evil spirit 
or a mere hallucination ? Have not even the most devout 
and upright persons been thus deluded ? We understand 
that the question is not answered by the fact that the same 
difficulty exists in every divine inspiration, and especially 
in the inspiration, properly so called, under which the 
canonical books of the Old and the New Testament were 
written. But without answering the question fully, the 
parallel case at least illustrates what may have happened 
in case of the prophetic communications. A moral cer- 
tainty that our inspiration is good, that our motive is 
supernatural, is a sufficient reason for performing the 
action in question and. for following the inspiration. Add 
to this the supernatural certainty which the divine light 
of prophecy infuses into the mind of the prophet, and at 
the same time the powerful impulse given to his will to 
announce his divine message, and the earnest conviction 
with which the prophets speak is sufficiently explained. 
In case the prophet were endowed with the gift of work- 
ing miracles in confirmation of his mission, he might even 
rely on this extrinsic motive for the truth of his prophetic 

4. Rationalistic Theories.— After establishing our 
own position regarding the psychological condition of the 
prophet at the time of his receiving the divine communica- 
tion, we may cast a glance at the explanations that some 
of our opponents give of this same condition. The theories 
of Ewald, Reville, Kuenen, and, in short, of all those who 
reduce the prophetic state to a merely natural phenomenon, 
need not be considered. For it appears from the analysis 
of the prophetic argument that the prophetic light sur- 
passes all natural causes, and can therefore proceed from 
God alone, either mediately or immediately. Whatever 
moral power these writers may ascribe to the prophets, 
however they may laud their creation of ethical mono- 


theism, they explain all this as a purely natural process, 
founded on the natural endowment of the prophets, and 
proving nothing beyond a great power of intellect and will. 
At the same time, these writers must shut their eyes to 
all the supernatural phenomena of prediction and fulfil- 
ment which are related in the Bible history. This posi- 
tion has been already sufficiently considered in a previous 

a. Briggs' Theory. — Here we must draw attention to the 
position of a few Christian writers who fully admit that 
the prophetic phenomenon is supernatural, but do not seem 
to explain it satisfactorily, or at least they allow their ex- 
planations to be influenced by the claims of the rationalists. 
Prof.Briggs (Messianic Prophecy,New York, 1886, pp. 2-22) 
gives the following exposition of our question. 1. " Proph- 
ecy as a religious instruction claims to come from God 
and to possess divine authority. The prophet is an officer 
of the Deity, with a commission from the God he serves." 
It appears from the whole text that this description is 
intended to apply to any prophet, whether true or false, 
whether serving the true God or an idol. Here the ration- 
alistic spirit which places the pagan religions of antiquity 
on a level with the revealed religion, and the soothsayers of 
paganism on a level with the prophets of Jehovah, has 
moved Dr. Briggs to call pagan soothsaying and Hebrew 
prophecy by the same name. He might as well give the 
same generic definition of gold and brass, of the picture and 
the object. 

2. Then Dr. Briggs goes on to say that "there are three 
phases of prophecy which are common to the religions of 
the world — the dream, the vision, and the enlightened 
spiritual discernment." Here again the three kinds of 
prophecy which we have already described are placed on 
the same level with their counterfeits. That the Doctor 
actually does this is plain from what he says in the follow- 
ing paragraph : " The dream is the simplest phase of proph- 
ecy. It may arise from an abnormal condition of the body 


or from the stimulation of a higher power. It may be 
genuine prophecy or spurious prophecy. There is need of 
discriminating tests." In a similar manner does the writer 
speak about his second phase of prophecy, the vision : " The 
most common phase of prophecy is the ecstatic state. This 
may be either natural, as in epileptics and persons who 
through nervous derangement have an abnormal intellectual 
and emotional development, or artificial, where the nervous 
organization is excited by external stimulants, or the agency 
of evil spirits, or the divine Spirit/' Finally, even the third 
phase of prophecy which Dr. Briggs acknowledges is of a 
very equivocal nature. "There is also a higher order of 
prophets, who through retirement and contemplation of the 
sacred mysteries of religion have been spiritually enlightened 
to discern truths of a higher order than their fellows, and to 
experience emotions of a deeper and more absorbing inten- 
sity. They have wondrous powers of insight and forecast. 
They read and interpret character and affairs. They are 
the masters of the past and the present, and they point the 
way confidently into the future. Such prophets of a higher 
grade exist among the various religions of the world." In 
all the three phases of prophecy, therefore, Dr. Briggs 
confounds the divinely inspired knowledge of the future 
with pagan divination and with natural penetration of genius. 
3. In the third place, Dr. Briggs states the Montanistic 
view and the naturalistic theory of jn-ophecy. The former 
is by no means refuted by him, but merely described and 
developed. In the course of development we meet the 
strange statement : " The most primitive form of prophecy 
among the Hebrews was doubtless of the lowest phases — 
external revelations through dreams or in ecstatic vision " 
(p. 14). As if in the divine revelations there were a de- 
velopment from the less to the more perfect way of commu- 
nicating with man, or as if man himself had been in the 
beginning much less developed in his spiritual faculties than 
he was at a later period. The biblical account of man's 


condition in the garden of Eden is here, at least implicitly, 
called in question. 

4. Finally, the Doctor gives his description of the He- 
brew prophet. " The prophet of Jahveh is personally called 
and endowed by Jahveh with the prophetic spirit. He 
speaks in the name of Jahveh and in his name alone. He 
is one of a series of prophets who guide in the development 
of the Hebrew religion. He absorbs and reproduces pre- 
vious prophecy. He transmits prophecy with confidence 
to his successors. Hebrew prophecy is an organism of 
redemption." All this does not yet touch the point we 
are considering just now. It merely describes or defines 
the Hebrew prophet by means of the effect he produces. 
But it is interesting as fitting in closely with the following 
description of the prophetic call and endowment : " Hebrew 
prophecy originates in a personal revelation of God to man 
in theophany. It is communicated to successive prophets 
by the influence of the spirit of God. The divine Spirit 
assures the prophet of his possession of the truth of God 
and of his commission to declare it; endows him with the 
gifts and spiritual energy to proclaim it without fear or 
favor, and despite every obstacle; guides him in the form 
of its delivery, and directs him to give it its appropriate 
place in the prophetic system." The point in which this 
description agrees with the preceding concerns the organic 
connection in which every Hebrew prophet is supposed to 
stand with his predecessors and his successors — a connection 
that can by no means claim the undisputed certainty of a 
fact. This will appear clearly where we shall treat of the 
prophetic order and the schools of the prophets. What the 
author requires for the prophetic call and endowment 
besides this organic connection is so vague that it is hardly 
worth considering. Of course, there is the light for the 
intellect and the strength for the will; but then these are 
gifts that are bestowed in common inspiration too, so that 
according to this view the prophet hardly differs from the 
common canonical writer. 


b. Riehm's Theory. — Riehm's explanation of prophecy, 
too, deserves a few moments' reflection (Messianic Proph- 
ecy, transl. by Muirhead, Edinburgh, 1891, pp. 1-101). 
1. First, then, Riehm protests: " We also are persuaded that 
an historical understanding of Old Testament prophecy is 
impossible apart from a recognition of the reality of the 
divine revelations imparted to the prophets " (p. 14). The 
supernatural character of prophecy is therefore acknowl- 
edged by the author. What is meant by the historical un- 
derstanding of prophecy is well illustrated by Davidson in 
the Introduction to Riehm's "Messianic Prophecies" (p. 12) : 
" He who in a temple that is an acknowledged architectural 
masterpiece does not survey the structure as a whole may 
easily look for more beauty and perfection of form in the, 
details than they by themselves really possess. The spec- 
tator, however, who admires the whole building need have 
no scruple in acknowledging the imperfections, in their 
isolated character, of details which make the temple great 
and splendid only by their co-ordination and harmonious 
articulation. One who in like manner has gained an in- 
sight into and a view of the whole Old Testament economy, 
and has, as a consequence, attained a full and clear convic- 
tion that the Old Covenant, as a whole, has been planned 
with a view to a future fulfilment in the New, and that the 
whole trend of religious development in the Old Testa- 
ment is towards Christianity, will, in the exegesis of all 
particular Messianic passages, without scruple recognize 
only that measure of knowledge of God's saving purpose 
which, when examined according to the rules of a strictly 
historical method of exegesis, they are found really to con- 
tain." And previously the same author had defined the 
historical sense of prophecy as " the purport of individual 
utterances considered as members of the entire developing 
body of Old Testament prophecy " (p. 7). A few lines 
further on, we read: "A definition of the contents of a 
prophecy can include only the sense — albeit the full sense 
— in which at the time of its utterance the prophecy could 


be understood, and was necessarily understood. For what 
can be recognized only in the time of fulfilment is precisely 
what is not contained in the prophecy itself." 

2. After thus professing his belief in the supernatural 
character of prophecy, Riehm goes on to explain God's way 
of communicating his revelation to the prophets. " To 
assume," he says (p. 58), " that revelations were made to 
the prophets in a way that condemned their previous ap- 
prehensions of truth to absolute disuse involves surely an 
unworthy conception of God. ... He [God] rather makes 
it his function to develop the germs that lie concealed in 
existing apprehensions, to bring them by constant impulse 
to the point at which they shall discover their hidden 
treasures, and cause the new truth organically to blossom 
forth from them under the reciprocal action of those in- 
fluences which by the laws of their own life-force they exert 
upon one another in the natural progress of their develop- 
ment. . . . The question as to the origin of a Messianic 
prophecy is answered in a truly satisfactory way only when 
it is shown how that origin has been psychologically 
mediated, or more particularly, what roots and germs of it 
were contained in the previous consciousness of the prophet, 
and in what way it was organically developed from them." 
This principle is illustrated by a fact of animal life. As no 
nourishment can be taken into the animal system that has 
not previously an organic formation, so in the intellectual 
life no truth can be digested, as it were, that has not 
previously conformed to the preliminary conditions of its 
natural development in the faculty. 

3. If it be asked in the third place which are the ger- 
minal ideas from which the Messianic prophecies have been 
organically developed, Dr. Riehm answers (p. G6) : " There 
are three ideas which, above others, demand our special at- 
tention : the idea of the Covenant, the immediately related 
idea of the kingdom of God, and, as the germ of the Mes- 
sianic prophecy in the narrower sense, the idea, not indeed, 
Mosaic, yet still pre-prophetic, of the theocratic kingship." 


The author then shows how the prophecies may have been 
developed out of these three primary ideas. As to the idea 
of the Covenant, the Messianic prophecy in the wider sense 
resulted, firstly, from the contradiction between idea and 
reality consequent upon Israel's various disloyalties, and 
secondly, from the contradiction between idea and reality 
inherent in the entire character of the Old Covenant and its 
theocracy (p. 78). The same two contradictions between 
idea and reality would tend to evolve the Messianic proph- 
ecy out of the idea of the kingdom of God (pp. 90, 91). 
And if we regard the theocratic kingship, we find that the 
king is on the one hand the representative of the invisible 
and Divine King, and on the other he is also the repre- 
sentative of the people; hence he represents not merely the 
ideal prophet and judge, but also the ideal priest. And 
since reality was lagging far behind the idea, it is but 
natural that the Messianic prophecy in its narrower sense 
should evolve out of the theocratic kingship (p. 117 ff.). 

4. It logically follows that the single Old Testament 
prophecies according to Riehm's view must be strictly 
adapted to the times in which they originated. This the 
author shows, first, from the destination of the prophecies 
for their respective present; secondly, from the limits of 
the prophetic prospect. Every prophet had a definite 
prophetic horizon beyond which his ideas could not carry 
him. Thirdly, from the fact that the circumstances of the 
relative times had to unfold the germs of the Messianic ap- 
prehension; and finally, from the general parallelism be- 
tween the course of history of the kingdom of God and the 
development of the Messianic prophecy (Riehm, 1. c, 
part ii., pp. 124-217). 

5. In the third part of his book (pp. 217-324) Riehm 
treats of the relation between Old Testament prophecy and 
New Testament fulfilment. He first reminds us again of 
his distinction between the contents of prophecy, i.e, the 
sense in which the prophets understood their utterances, 
and its ultimate reference to fulfilment through Christ (p. 


219). The author regards the attempt to piece together in 
one complete picture all the individual features of Messianic 
prophecy, and to find in Christ and his kingdom the fulfil- 
ment of every individual feature, as unwarrantable and 
impracticable (p. 221). The single prophecies are not the 
fragments of a picture, but rather the different forms of a 
living organism, which advances through a series of phases 
of development. As individual leaves fall from the plant 
and are replaced by new ones, and as in the development of 
brute-organism every organ assumes just the form in which 
at that particular state of development it can best fulfil its 
intended purpose, so it is with the Messianic prophecies. 
The importance of individual prophecies is limited to the 
time during which the circumstances that evoked them 
continue, and during which the historical stage of develop- 
ment lasts to which the prophecy belongs. When the his- 
torical circumstances were substantially altered, most ele- 
ments of the prophecy had found their proper times- 
adapted fulfilment, and so far as this was not the case, they 
could never be fulfilled in the sense which contemporaries 
gave to the prophecy. Hence, as soon as the circumstances 
have substantially altered, something new takes the place 
of the old that has been outlived and has lost its signifi- 
cance and effective force. Thus a very considerable por- 
tion of Messianic prophecy remains outside the sphere of 
New Testament fulfilment, either because it has found 
already its times-adapted fulfilment before the fulness of 
time, or through its remaining altogether unfulfilled. 

c. Verdict on Riehm's Theory. — a. It is based on a 
False Principle. — Regarding Riehm's theory we must 
say that it appears to us altogether unsatisfactory and even 
inconsistent. For the author claims on the one hand that 
God's intervention in prophecy is absolutely necessary, and 
on the other he establishes a gradual development of the 
prophetic ideas, similar to the gradual process in the vege- 
table and the animal life. Of course, he admits the latter, 
because according to him God could not reveal any truth 


to man that is not already contained in what man knows 
beforehand. Now this position is in the first place en- 
tirely gratuitous. The analogy from the lower life proves 
only that our intellectual faculty cannot grasp anything 
that is not essentially related to it; but all truth is essen- 
tially related to the intellect, as philosophers prove. As it 
stands, the argument would prove that no animal can 
assimilate any food that is not already contained in its 
stomach, — cannot, in other words, take any fresh nourish- 

/3. Its Assumptions are Gratuitous. — And when we 
come to examine the single stages of Riehm's theory, its 
entire gratuitousness and sophistry become evident. For, 
to begin with the starting-point of the theory, we are asked 
to assume the three ideas of the Covenant, the Kingdom 
of God, and the Theocratic Kingdom, Now these three 
ideas are either mere natural developments of previous 
concepts, in which case the whole superstructure is a 
merely natural system of religion, or they are directly re- 
vealed by God. But if this latter explanation be given, 
Riehm's own theory of the intellectual development of relig- 
ious ideas falls to the ground. 

y. The Process of Development is merely Natu- 
ral. — In the next place, a word may be said about the 
development of the prophetic concepts out of the previ- 
ous germinal ideas. As the process is explained, it ex- 
cludes anything we might be apt to call a supernatural 
divine assistance. For we find similar processes in the 
development of almost every scientific or ethical idea. The 
gradual perfection in the application of steam and elec- 
tricity which has now produced the transatlantic steamer 
and the telegraphic cable might thus be represented as a 
prophetic process, prefiguring our present state of mechan- 
ical perfection. In the same manner the revolutionary 
ideas developed during the course of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, culminating in the murder of 
Louis XVI. with its concomitant horrors, might be called 


prophecies of the French Revolution. For as the horrors 
perpetrated by the revolutionists far outran the principles 
laid down by the revolutionary philosophy, so has, accord- 
ing to Riehm, the Christian fulfilment surpassed the pro- 
phetic predictions of the Messias. 

8. The Definiteness of the Prophecies is not ex- 
plained. — Then it must be noted that the historical 
events which, according to Riehm's theory, developed the 
prophetic germs into fuller growth are by no means suffi- 
cient to account for the definite Messianic predictions 
which they produced. Take, for instance, the prophecy of 
Isaias vii. 1-14: the desire of King Achaz to conclude an 
alliance with Assyria is the occasion of Isaias' appeal to 
the king to place his confidence in the God of Israel. 
Achaz's rejection of the divine alliance and his preference 
for Assyrian help sufficiently account for the unfavorable 
sign that the prophet announces to the house of David : 
the crown and the glory of the house of David, the Messias, 
shall be reduced to the food of the poor, shall eat butter 
and honey, and the king of Assyria, who is preferred 
before God Almighty, shall become the instrument of 
Juda's scourge. Thus far the predictions correspond 
exactly with the historic occasion on which they were pro- 
nounced, though mere human wisdom could have by no 
means evolved them out of the previous concepts of Cove- 
nant and Theocratic Kingdom. But then, where was the 
need of predicting precisely on this occasion that a virgin 
should conceive and bear a son, and that the son's name 
was to be Emmanuel ? What is true in the case of this 
particular prophecy applies to all the other prophecies, 
from the victory predicted for the seed of the woman even 
to the description of the Messias' vicarious suffering as 
contained in the prophet Isaias. 

e. The Idea of Fulfilment is destroyed. — Finally, 
Riehm's view about the fulfilment of the Messianic proph- 
ecies is even less satisfactory than his opinion concerning 
their origin and development. It may be all very well to 


omit in a steam-engine all superfluous wheels and screws, 
though they have been present at some past period when 
the machine was not yet fully developed ; but, surely, no 
one will or can maintain that the various stages of the 
machine's growth were real prophecies of what we see at 
present. If Riehm perseveres in the system which he now 
holds about the Christian fulfilment of Messianic prophecy, 
he must either cease to speak about prophecy in connection 
with this subject, or he must change his definition of 
prophecy. Delitzsch's remark, therefore, that Riehm does 
not do justice to the literal meaning of the Messianic pre- 
dictions must be understood in this sense: that Riehm 
abandons such a meaning entirely with regard to the great 
bulk of prophetic writings. It may be a depressing obser- 
vation, but it is true, nevertheless, that Judaism has a 
strong support in such writers as Riehm. Why should a 
son of Abraham leave his particular set of views and opin- 
ions, naturally developed out of the Old Testament Messi- 
anic ideas, in order to adopt a set of religious ideas and 
opinions that have grown from the same root in another 
portion of the world, or in another school of religious 
teachers ? The Jew, too, may point to that part of fulfilled 
prophecy which found its completion before the fulness of 
time; the Jew may claim that the Messianic prophecies 
not yet fulfilled were never intended to find their fulfil- 
ment, but were like the numberless leaves that fall from 
the plant as soon as they have attained their special end. 
Surely every Christian as such, however he may under- 
stand the relation of the divine to the human in the person 
of Jesus, must recognize in him the unmistakable end of 
Old Testament development, and in Christianity the infal- 
lible completion of Israel's religion. 



1. The Exercise of the Prophetic Office was Extra- 
ordinary. — It follows from the condition of the prophet 
at the time he receives the divine message that the exercise 
of his office is not an ordinary or common action. " The 
prophetic light," says St. Thomas (Summa, II*. ii ae ., q. 171 
a. 2), "is not in the intellect after the manner of a per- 
manent form, . . . but as a transient passion or impression." 
And St. Jerome says (In Ezech. xxxv. 1. M. 25, 349) : " If 
the word of God were always in the prophets and had 
a permanent dwelling in their breast, Ezechiel would not 
say so often : And the word of the Lord came to me." In 
point of fact, we repeatedly find the prophets praying for 
the divine light of prophecy, and at times they are even 
commanded to pray with this intention (I. Kings viii. 8; 
Jer. xxxii. 16; xlii. 4; Dan. ii. 17 ff.; ix. 3 ff.; Jer. xxxii. 

2. The Call to the Prophetic Office was Extra- 
ordinary. — If we consider the way in which the prophets 
were called, their office must again be called extraor- 
dinary. For it was God himself who called the in- 
dividual prophets (cf. I. Kings iii. 1; Is. vi.; Jer. i.) and 
conferred on them the prophetic gift by an internal and 
supernatural process. The prophetic office was not, like 
the office of king or priest, annexed to a certain tribe or 
family or class of persons. Men and women of every age, 
of every condition of life, were fit subjects for the prophetic 
office. The boy Samuel was a Levite; Eliseus, a husband- 
man of the tribe of Ephraim, was advanced in age at the 


time of his prophetic call; Isaias is by many believed to 
have belonged to the royal family; Amos was a shepherd 
of the tribe of Juda ; Jeremias and Ezechiel were priests ; 
Debbora was a prophetess at the time of the Judges, and 
King Josias sought the will of God from the prophetess 
Holda. Not even a definite preparation was required for the 
prophetic office, though we believe that it was commonly 
conferred on the pious and faithful observers of the law. 
No external rite initiated the prophets into their high 
office; for what we read of Elias and Eliseus (III. Kings 
xix. 16) must be regarded as an exceptional case, and Isaias 
(lxi. 1) speaks of an internal unction of the Spirit. 

a. The Prophetic Order and the Prophetic Gift are not 
Convertible Terms. — The opinion of recent biblical scholars 
that there existed regular schools of prophets seems at first 
sight to contradict our present position regarding the man- 
ner of the prophetic call. But it must be observed, in the 
first place, that even if we grant all that is said about the 
schools of prophets, our own thesis remains intact. For it 
is generally granted that the prophetic order and the pro- 
phetic gift are not convertible terms. The members of the 
schools might belong to the prophetic order, but they had 
not on that account the supernatural prophetic gift; and, 
on the other hand, there might be persons endowed with 
the prophetic gift who did not belong to the order or to the 
school of the prophets. The prophetic gift which consti- 
tuted the prophet in the strict acceptation of the term, as 
we take it here, was always conferred by God himself. The 
prophetic gift may be compared with the gift of ecstasy or 
the prayer of quiet; persons may belong to communities in 
which this gift is often found, without possessing it; and 
again, ecstasy and the highest form of prayer may exist 
outside of religious communities. 

b. Prophetic Schools. — But the opinion itself that there 
existed regular prophetic schools deserves a moment's atten- 
tion. All we know for certain is that at the time of Samuel, of 
Elias and Eliseus many prophets gathered at Ramatha, 


Bethel, Gilgal, Jericho, and near the Jordan (I. Kings x. 5; 
xix. 20; IV. Kings, ii. 3, 5; iv. 38) around a more renowned 
prophet (Samuel, Elias, Eliseus), whom they recognized as 
their superior (I. Kings xix. 20; IV. Kings, vi. 1), in order 
to lead a common life (IV. Kings, iv. 38 if.) and give joint 
praise to God (I. Kings xix. 20). Then again the prophet 
Amos mentions the sons of the prophets (Am. vii. 14). And 
St. Jerome (Ad Rustic, ep. 125, 7; cf. ad Paulin. ep. 58, 5; 
ad Eustoch. ep. 22,21; M. 22, 107G; 583; 408) writes: "The 
sons of the prophets of whom we read are the monks of 
the Old Testament, who built themselves huts along the 
Jordan, and having left the turmoil of the cities, lived on 
barley and wild herbs." 

a. Reasons for their Existence. — But not content 
with these facts, the modern investigators have devised 
regular systems of schools to which the prophets are said to 
have belonged. The reasons for this theory may be reduced 
to the following: 1. Abarbanel writes: "These [the sons 
of the prophets] are the disciples who prepare themselves 
for prophesying, and they are set apart and as Nazarenes 
consecrated for the divine service." 2. The sons of the 
prophets are said to sit before a more renowned projmets (IV. 
Kings iv. 38; vi. 1), as the pupils were wont to sit around 
their master (cf. Dillmann, Schenkers Bibellexic. iv. p. 
619; Davidson, Introd. ii. p. 457). 3. The Chaldee trans- 
lation speaks already of a number of scribes (I. Kings x. 5, 
10) sitting in a house of learning (I. Kings xix. 20), and 
mentions the disciples of the prophets instead of their sons 
(III. Kings xx. 32). 

/3. Reasons not convincing. — But, on the other hand, 
it is urged that Abarbanel speaks in the foregoing manner 
on account of the Chaldee translation; that the latter 
introduces the terms " scribes " and " disciples " and " house 
of learning" without sufficient reason, substituting them 
for the familiar scriptural words " prophets " ami " sons of 
the prophets." Besides, the very disciples who are said to 
prepare themselves for prophesying actually prophesy 


already (III. Kings xx. 35; IV. Kings ii. 3, 5). And to base 
the whole theory of the prophetic schools on the fact that 
the sons of the prophets sit before their superior is to 
proceed unscientifically, to say the least. 

y. Schools involved in Uncertainty. — Still, if we 
grant that regular prophetic schools were organized, the 
historical books of the Old Testament speak only incident- 
ally of them. Thus we do not know whether the prophets 
that played such an important part in the history of Saul 
and David continued to exist after the time of those 
kings; again, we know that king Achab was a persecutor 
of the sons of the prophets, that they existed at the time of 
Elias and Eliseus, and that they were extinct when the 
books of Machabees and of Ecclesiasticus were written (I. 
Mac. iv. 46; ix. 27; xiv. 41; Ecclus. xxxvi. 17). Whether 
their existence was continuous or interrupted, whether they 
lasted till about the period when the canon of the Old 
Testament received its last additions, or ended at the time 
of Elias and Eliseus must remain an historical problem 
(Trochon, " Introd. generate aux Prophetes," Paris, 1883, p. 

S. Probable Description of the Schools. — The prob- 
able existence of the prophetic schools being admitted, their 
organization is at best but conjectural. The colleges appear 
to have differed considerably in the number of their mem- 
bers; some must have been quite numerous (III. Kings 
xviii. 4; IV. Kings ii. 1G). An elderly or leading prophet 
presided over them (I. Kings xix. 20), called their Father 
(I. Kings x. 12) or Master (IV. Kings ii. 3), who may 
have been admitted to his office by the ceremony of anoint- 
ing (III. Kings xix. 16; Is. Ixi. 1 ; Ps. civ. (cv.) 15). The 
members of the college were called his sons. The chief sub- 
ject of study was no doubt the Law and its interpretation. 
Subsidiary subjects of instruction were music and sacred 
poetry, both of which had been connected with prophecy 
from the time of Moses (Ex. xv. 20) and the Judges ( Judg. 
iv. 4; v. 1; cf. I. Kings x. 5; IV. Kings iii. 15; I. Tar. 


xxv. 1G; Jon. ii. 2; Is. xii. 1; xxvi. 1; Habac. iii. 2). It 
was also probably the duty of the prophetical students to 
compose verses for the Temple music. Having been 
trained and taught, the prophets, whether still residing in 
the college or having left its precincts, had the task of 
teaching others. Monthly and weekly religious meetings 
appear to have been held by the prophets (IV. Kings iv. 23; 
Ezech. viii. 1 ; xiv. 1; xx. 1; IV. Kings vi. 32). It was prob- 
ably at these meetings that many of the warnings and 
exhortations on morality and a spiritual religion were ad- 
dressed by the prophets to their countrymen. The general 
appearance and life of the prophets seem to have been similar 
to those of the Eastern dervish of the present day. Their 
dress was a hairy garment, girt with a leathern girdle (Is. 
xx. 2; Zach. xiii. 4; Matt. iii. 4). They were married or 
unmarried as they chose; but their manner of life and diet 
were stern and austere (IV. Kings iv. 10, 38 ; III. Kings 
xix. G; Matt. iii. 4; cf. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 
vol. ii. pp. 930 f.). 

3. The Prophetic Office was an Ordinary Institu- 
tion. — a. The priests are not the Ordinary Teachers. — Thus 
far we have shown that the prophetic office was an extra- 
ordinary one, whether we consider the divine call to that 
dignity or its exercise. But considered from another point 
of view, the prophetic office was an ordinary one. It is 
often stated that in the Old Testament the teaching-office 
was intrusted to the order of priests or to the high-priest 
(Becanus, Anal. V. et N. T., XII. vi. q. 2; Al. Vincenzi, De 
Hebraeorum et Christianorum sacra monarchia, p. 3 if.). 
But the arguments on which this contention rests are not 
at all solid enough to bear up the superstructure. The 
texts usually advanced as proofs either refer to the judicial 
power (Dent. xvii. 8 if.; II. Par. xix. 10) of the priests and 
Levites, or they concern the prophetic privilege of the 
Urim and Thummim (Ugolini, Thesaurus Antiqu., xii. p. 
375-784). The Babbis, who are surely not accustomed to 
lessen their national privileges, maintain that only the king 


or the president of the Sanhedrin, or another person con- 
stituted in the highest office of the commonwealth, could 
use the Urim and Thummim in case there was question of 
a public affair. According to the Scriptures, only princes 
of the nation, such as Josue, Samuel, Saul, David, had re- 
course to this method of consulting the divine will, and 
that only in matters of the highest imjoortance (Jos. vii. 1G 
ff.; I. Kings x. 20 If.; xiv. 18; xxii. 10; xxiii. 9; xxviii. 6). 
Besides all this, the Jews themselves did not attribute the 
teaching-ministry to the priesthood, but to the prophets 
(cf. I. Mac. iv. 4G; xiv. 41). Jesus exhorts his audience to 
obey the precepts, not of the priests, but of the scribes and 
the Pharisees, of whom he says that they sit in the chair of 
Moses, not of Aaron (Matt, xxiii. 2 ft'.). And how could 
the priests and Levites fulfil the office of instructing the 
nation, since they themselves were often given to idolatry 
and immoral practices? (II. Par. xxxvi. 15.) It must also 
be kept in mind that before the deposit of faith was offi- 
cially completed, none but an inspired judge could decide 
finally whether any given doctrine, not opposed to previ- 
ously revealed truth, was really revealed or the mere result 
of human thought. 

b. Deut. xviii. 9-22. — The reasons, then, for ascribing 
the ordinary teaching-office to the priesthood of the Old 
Testament are rather apparent than real arguments, and 
several considerations have led us to doubt such a joint 
ministry. But there are other Scripture passages in which 
the ordinary teaching-office is actually ascribed to the 
prophets. We read in Deuteronomy (xviii. 9-22) : " When 
thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God shall 
give thee, beware lest thou have a mind to imitate the 
abominations of those nations; neither let there be found 
among you any one that shall expiate his son or daughter, 
making them to pass through the fire: or that consulteth 
soothsayers, or observeth dreams and omens; neither let 
there be any wizard, nor charmer, nor any one that consult- 
eth pythonic spirits or fortune-tellers, or that seeketh the 


truth from the dead; for the Lord abhorreth all these 
things, and for these abominations lie will destroy them 
at thy coming; thou shalt be perfect and without spot 
before the Lord thy God. These nations whose land 
thou shalt possess hearken to soothsayers and diviners; 
but thou art otherwise instructed by the Lord thy God. 
The Lord thy God will raise up to thee a prophet of thy 
nation and of thy brethren like unto me: him thou shalt 
hear, as thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb, when 
the assembly was gathered together, and saidst: Let me 
not hear any more the voice of the Lord my God, neither 
let me see any more this exceeding great fire, lest 1 die. 
And the Lord said to me: They have spoken all things 
well. I will raise them up a prophet out of the midst of 
their brethren like to thee: and I will put my words in 
his mouth, and he shall speak all that I shall command 
him; and he that will not hear his words, which he shall 
speak in my name, I will be the revenger. But the 
prophet who being corrupted with pride shall speak in my 
name things that I did not command him to say, or in the 
name of strange gods, shall be slain. And if in silent 
thought thou answer: How shall I know the word that 
the Lord hath not spoken? thou shalt have this sign: 
Whatsoever that same prophet foretelleth in the name of 
the Lord, and it cometh not to pass, that thing the Lord 
hath not spoken, but the prophet hath forged it by the 
pride of his mind : and therefore thou shalt not fear him." 
a. Reasons for applying the Text to Christ 
alone. — Many interpreters apply this passage to the Mes- 
sias alone. The reasons for this view are the following: 
1. In the whole text there is question of " the prophet" in 
the singular number. 2. The prophet spoken of is to be 
like Moses. But, on the other hand, the singular number 
has in Hebrew often a collective meaning; the sacred 
writer speaks in Deuteronomy (xvii. 14-20) of the king in 
the singular number, though he evidently applies his prin- 
ciples to all Israelite kings. The predicted similitude be- 


tween the prophet and Moses does not mean equality or 
identity. If this argument be urged too far, it will prove 
that " the prophet " cannot apply to Christ. For if the 
prophets were not like Moses, because they were his infe- 
riors, Christ was not like Moses because he was infinitely 
his superior. It appears then that we cannot hold the po- 
sition of St. Athanasius (c. Arian. Or. 1, 54. M. 20, 126), 
St. Isidore Pelusiota (ep. iii. 94. M. 98, 797), St. Gregory 
of Nyssa (Test. c. Jud. 2. M. 40, 204), Cajetan, Joseph a 
Costa, Estius, Patrizi, Bade, Corluy, and others who make 
the above text an exclusively Messianic prophecy. 

(3. Its Typical Reference to Christ. — Clement of 
Alexandria (Pa^dagog. i. 7. M. 8, 322), Venerable Bede 
(In h. loc. M. 91, 387), and St. Augustine (c. Faust, xvi. 
19. 20. M. 42, 327), understand the passage as applying 
to Josue in its literal and to Christ in its typical sense. 
The same twofold reference to Christ and Josue is held 
by Vatable and Emmanuel Sa. In the Middle Ages, 
the iuterlineary Gloss and Burgensis applied the first 
part of the passage to the prophets in general (verse 15), 
but the latter part to Christ alone (verse 18). Eusebius 
of Csesarea in three passages of his writings explicitly 
excludes a reference of the passage to the prophets (Dem- 
onstrat. Evan. iii. 2; ix. 11; Eclog. Proph. i. 15; M. 22, 
1G8; 089 ff., 1072); and in another passage the same 
writer clearly explains this prophecy as applying to the 
prophets (Eclog. Proph. iv. M. 22, 1192). But the great 
bulk of writers understand the Mosaic prediction as apply- 
ing to the whole series of prophets, including Christ as 
their head and highest fulfilment. For this opinion we 
may appeal to St. Jerome (In Is. viii. 19. M. 24, 125), Ori- 
gen (c. Cels. i. 30. M. 11, 429), Theodoret (In Jer. vi. 10. 
M. 81, 545), Rhabanus Maurus (cf. in h. 1. M. 108, 900), 
Walafr. Strab. (Glossa ordin. in h. 1. M. 113, 471), St. 
Bruno Ast. (M. 104, 512), B. Albertus Magn. (In Agg. ii. 
5), Card. Hugo, Nic. Lyranus, Dion, the Carth., Alphons 
Tostatus, Bonfrerius, a Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus, Fras- 


sen, Gordon, Calmet, Allioli (In Jer. xxviii. 6), Reinke 
(Beitriige, vi. pp. 297 if.), Loch and Reischl (In h. 1.), Meig- 
nan (Les propheties messian., pp. 611 ft.), Bisping (In Actus 
iii. 21), A. Scholz (Einleitung iii. p. 240), Knabenbauer (Der 
Prophet Isaias, p. 3 ff.), de Hurnmelauer (In I. Kings x. 5. 
Comm. p. 114), and others of less authority. We said that 
most authors gave this interpretation of Moses' words; for 
the explanation of some modern Jews and Judaizers that 
the prediction refers to the line of prophets only, and in no 
way to the Messias, cannot claim any probability (cf. Bal- 
densperger, pp. 138 ff.). Not to mention that it is taken as 
a Messianic prophecy in Acts iii. 22, 23; vii. 37, and indi- 
rectly also in Jo. i. 45; vi. 45 f. ; iv. 25, we must draw at- 
tention to the array of Fathers whose names are given in 
the foregoing lists of Messianic interpretations. To them 
may be added the testimony of many more Fathers who 
certainly explain the passage in question as referring to 
the Messias, though they do not distinctly state whether 
they limit it to the Messias alone or extend it to other 
prophets, whether they take it in a literal or a typical 
sense as Messianic. Among these Fathers are: Tertullian 
(c. Marc. iv. 22. M. 2, 414), St. Cyprian (Test. adv. Jud., i. 
18. M. 4, G88), Lactantius (Instit. div. iv. 17. M. 6, 500), 
St. Philastr. (Haer. 116. M. 12, 1242), St. Gaudentius 
(Serm. ix. M. 20, 909), St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Cat. xii. 17. 
M. 33, 744), St. Epiphanius (Haer. xlii. 11; Schol. xxvii. 
ex. ev. Luc; Schol. viii. ex. ep. ad Gal. M. 41, 744, 777), 
St. Chrysostom (In Anom. horn. xii. 1 ; in II. Cor. hom. 
vii. 3. M. 48, 803; lxi. 446), St. Cyril of Alexandria (De 
adoratione in spiritu et verit., ii. M. 68, 213, 253). 

All we have to show, in order to establish our thesis con- 
cerning the divinely appointed connection between the 
ordinary office of teaching in the Old Testament and the 
prophetic office, is the truth that Moses' prophecy refers to 
the whole series of prophets and not only to their common 
head and fulfilment. Now this is easily shown from the 
position of the prophecy in Deuteronomy, from its con- 


text, and from other information we have about the pro- 
phetic office and duty. 

y. Its Literal Reference to the Prophets. — 1. 
The Mosaic prophecy cannot apply to the Messias alone on 
account of its position in the Book of Deuteronomy. After 
reminding the people in the second Deuteronomic treatise 
of its duties towards God (Dent. xii. l.-xvi. 17), the wri- 
ter naturally passes on to the duties towards those who 
take God's place in regard to the people (xvi. 18-xviii. 22), 
and then considers its duties towards its neighbor (xix. 1- 
xxii. 30). Among those who take God's place Moses treats 
first of the civil authorities, the judges (xvi. 18-xvii. 13) 
and the kings (xvii. 14-20); then he considers the relig- 
ious authorities, the Levites and the priests (xviii. 1-8), 
and the prophets (xviii. 9-22). Those authors who restrict 
the Mosaic prophecy to the Messias alone destroy this 
clear and beautiful arrangement of Deuteronomy. 

2. The Mosaic prophecy cannot refer to the Messias 
alone on account of its context in Deuteronomy. The 
reason why God so much insists on avoiding all the abomi- 
nations of the nations is the fact that he will raise up a 
prophet out of the people's brethren, whom any one may 
consult whenever occasion offers to do so. And how can 
this promise be said to be fulfilled, if the prophet was no 
one but the Messias ? Surely, the people could not have 
recourse to him in their daily needs for all the centu- 
ries that passed between the time of Moses and the coming 
of Christ. Again, God promises to give in the prophet 
what the people had asked for on Mount Sinai. Now the 
people had not asked for the Messias, but for some one to 
interpret for them the will of their divine master, i.e., for a 
prophet. The same may be seen from the opposition be- 
tween the true and the false prophets. Had the criterion 
of the true prophet applied to the Messias alone, the first 
prophet whose predictions happened to be verified might 
have claimed the right of the Messiasship (cf. Jer. xxviii, 
7-9; III. Kings xxii. 28). 


3. All we know of the duties and the rights of the 
prophets agrees perfectly with the opinion that the 
prophets were divinely constituted as the ordinary teachers 
of Israel. God himself elects them (Jer. vi. 17; xxix. 15; 
i. 7; vii. 25; xxv. 4; Is. vi. 8; Am. ii. 11; vii. 15); they 
are the officially recognized persons to be consulted in the 
daily difficulties of life, and they are real lawgivers (Matt. 
v. 17; vii. 12; xxii. 40; I. Kings x. 25); God himself puts 
his words into their mouth (Is. Ii. 1G; lix. 21; i. 10; 
xxviii. 14; xxxix. 5; lii. G; xvi. 13; xxxvii. 22; xlii. 19; 
Jer. i. 9; v. 14; ii. 4, 31; vii. 2; xix. 2; xxvi. 2; Ezech. 
xvii. 21; xxi. 22), in such a manner that all are bound to 
obey the prophet under pain of the greatest punishments 
(III. Kings xx. 35; IV. Kin % gsxvii. 13; II. Par. xxxvi. 15 i; 
Am. vii. 1G f.). 

c. The Prophets were the Ordinary Teachers.— Hence 
the prophets were the ordinary preachers of morals and of 
religion, the ordinary expounders of the Mosaic law both 
ritual and ethical, and consequently they may be said to 
have held the pastoral office in Israel. No doubt they had 
God's special assistance in the performance of their ardu- 
ous duties, and when the occasion required it God enlight- 
ened their understanding in regard to the future fate of 
their nation and the character of their coming redeemer. 
And since the prophetic gift is not a " charisma gratum 
faciens," but a " charisma gratis datum " — in other words, 
since their prophetic gift was vouchsafed to the prophets 
for the benefit of others, God moved also their will effica- 
ciously that they might communicate, either in writing or 
by word of mouth, the light which they had received. In 
prophecy we have, therefore, all the elements required to 
constitute inspiration strictly so called, and besides we find 
there divine revelation in the strict acceptation of the 

Excejrtion Answered. — It may be asked, How could God 
permit the prophets to become extinct, if he had ordained 
them as the ordinary teaching officials of the Jewish 


nation? There are several answers to the difficulty: 
a. The Jews after returning from the Babylonian exile 
were less prone to idolatry than they had been in the 
earlier period of their history. For though we find them 
at times negligent in their religious duties, we never again 
see them given to the worship of false gods. b. The re- 
vealed doctrine needed to prepare the chosen people for 
the future teaching of Christ was completed at the time 
of the Babylonian exile, so that no new inspired teachers 
were required to pronounce on the truth of any newly- 
taught doctrine. The scribes, who took their rise after the 
return of the nation from Babylon, were fully sufficient to 
guard whatever had been revealed together with its tradi- 
tional commentaries (cf. Josef)h, c. App. i. 8; I. Mach. iv. 
4G; ix. 27; xiv. 41; Eccli. xxxvi. 17 Greek text). 

Hence we need not on this account abandon our thesis 
that the prophets were the ordinary teachers of the Israel- 
ites in matters of faith and morals; nor need we say that 
after the exile the prophets were silent for fear of the G en- 
tiles (Hengstenberg), nor that then they did not feel the 
need of redemption (Grimm, Ohler), nor that historical 
and didactic literature absorbed all the Jewish activity 
(Schiirer), nor that the Law was felt to be a sufficient revela- 
tion (Holtzmann), nor that the intellectual faculty of the 
people had been developed too greatly to admit of prophe- 
cies (Winer, Realworterb. ii. p. 283; cf. Comely, Introd. II. 
ii. pp. 282 if.; Baldensperger, " Das Selbstbewusstsein 
Jesu," pp. G9 ft.; Schiirer, "The Jewish People/' II. ii. pp. 
129 if.). 

d. Prophetic Influence in the State.— As a natural con- 
sequence it follows that the prophets were a political power 
in the state. Strong in the safeguard of their religious 
character, they were able to serve as a counterpoise to the 
royal authority when wielded even by an Achab. But their 
political importance extended farther still; they were the 
preachers of patriotism— a patriotism founded on religious 
motives. To the subject of the theocracy the enemy of 


the nation was the enemy of God, the traitor to the com- 
monwealth was a traitor to Jehovah; the political enemy 
was a representative of moral evil, while the political 
capital, Jerusalem, was the centre of the kingdom of God — 
"the city of our God, the mountain of holiness; beautiful 
for situation, the joy of the whole earth, the city of the 
great king." 

e. Secondary Functions of the Prophets. — Besides all this 
the prophets were the national annalists and historians. 
A great portion of Isaias, Jeremias, Daniel, Jonas, and of 
Aggeus is directly or indirectly history. And finally, to 
complete the political importance of the prophets, they 
served as the nation's poets. It has already been men- 
tioned that music and poetry, chants and hymns, were a 
main part of the studies of the class from which, generally 
speaking, the prophets were chosen. Hence, not only the 
songs of the prophetic writings, but even their narrative 
and instructive parts, are poetical or breathe the spirit of 
poetry. It may be safely stated that had the prophets' 
directions and counsels on political matters been heeded, 
had not the kings sought their selfish ends instead of the 
national welfare, and had the people paid less attention to 
the false prophets, the fate of the Hebrew commonwealth 
would have been far different from what it really proved 
to be. 

4. Prophets and Priests. — It may throw more light on 
the nature of the prophetic office if we compare it with 
some of the other divinely appointed dignities of the Jew- 
ish community. And first of all, it must be well remem- 
bered that the prophetic calling differed essentially from 
the priestly rank. The latter consisted in learning the 
Law and applying it to the ritual and the legal questions 
(Mai. ii. 7; Lev. x. 11; Dent, xxxiii. 9, 10; xxiv. 8; 
Agg. ii. 11; Ezeclv. xliv. 23,24). We may even suppose 
that the written law and the oral traditions were perpetu- 
ated by means of the priesthood (Dent. xvii. 9; cf. xxxi. 6). 
If we, therefore, find that several priests, such as Jeremias, 


Ezechiel, Zacharias, and even Levites, snch as Ilanan and 
perhaps Habacuc, appear as prophets, we may rightly infer 
that the priestly and the Levitical state were a fit prepara- 
tion for the divine call to the prophetic office, though both 
were essentially distinct functions. Preaching as such had 
no representative part in the temple-service, during which 
only a few passages of Scripture were read as a ceremonial 
accompaniment. It is only after the Babylonian exile that 
preaching and reading were introduced into the synagogue- 
service as a regular part of the divine worship. The 
priests as such were to offer sacrifices, the prophets as such 
had to preach and to teach the Jewish people. 

a. They are Distinct. — It is true that while the priests 
attend to the letter of the Law and its application to the 
sacrificial service, the prophets attend more to its spirit, 
and infuse its moral precepts into the daily life of the 
people. They generally insist on obedience to the will of 
God as revealed in the Law, and their exhortations dwell 
less on the external precepts of the Law than on its sub- 
stance (cf. Robertson Smith, " The Old Testament in the 
Jewish Church," New York, 1 890, pp. 285 ff .). They speak 
loudly against the dead works not vivified by the spirit, 
they pour out bitter sarcasm against fasts and ceremonies 
(Os. vi. fi; Jer. vii. 21-23; Joel ii. 13; Is. lviii.). It has 
been well said that the prophets were the conscience of the 
Jewish state. For as in man conscience applies the law 
written in the human heart to single actions, so did the 
prophets apply the Law kept by the priests to the individ- 
ual acts of the Israelite. 

b. Not Opposed to Each Other. — But it does not follow 
from all this that there was an opposition between the 
priesthood and the prophetic order. When Osee (iv. 4) 
wishes to draw a vivid picture of the people's depravity, he 
says: " But yet let not any man judge: and let not a man 
be rebuked: for thy people are as they that contradict the 
priest." "Such is the spirit," says Monsieur Lehir (p. 
552), " which lives in all the prophets. If in their invec- 


tives against vice they at times name the priests together 
-with the people, it is the great respect for that exalted dig- 
nity that inspires them. The more venerable the office 
is, the more culpable are in the prophets 7 eyes those who 
profane it by their dissolute manners. If, again, they pre- 
dict a new priesthood, a holier and more spiritual religion 
than was that of the synagogue, we in our days speak in 
the same way when we treat of our heavenly home. The 
prophets well knew that God brings his work to its ulti- 
mate perfection by a continuous process of development, 
and that a more perfect state must follow the preceding 
less perfect." 

5. Prophets and Kings.— There have been attempts to 
make Jesus Christ a thorough republican, opposed to all 
the pretensions, just or unjust, of monarchy. In the same 
way have the Jewish prophets been represented as opposed 
to the principle of Hebrew monarchy. Perhaps it may 
be well to let Reuss (Les Prophetes, pp. 37, 38) explain the 
state of the question : " Many have believed, or still believe, 
that the prophets were democrats in the strict sense of the 
word, i.e., were on principle opposed to royalty. They 
contrast the monarchy as instituted by men with the 
theocracy, as if the two were incompatible. They arm 
themselves with a text about Samuel (I. Kings viii.), wholly 
misunderstood, and with a stray passage from the books of 
Kings, in which one or another prince is the object of 
blame uttered precisely from a religious point of view; 
finally, they appeal to certain encounters between such a 
prophet and such a representative of the civil authority. 
It is hard to understand how this prejudice can continue 
iu spite of all the facts that contradict it. We find, it is 
true, among the Israelites local or municipal democratic 
institutions; but they have existed before and independ- 
ently of the prophets, and the whole Jewish nation as such 
has never formed a republic, unless that name be given to 
a state of things in which there is no government at all. 
The East has never, as a general rule, known any form of 


a regular government except the monarchy — an auto- 
cratic and despotic monarchy. No prophet, whether of 
those whose deeds are recorded in authentic writings or 
of any other class, has ever preached the upsetting of the 
throne in the interest of an entirely new constitution. On 
the contrary, the prophets have been the first writers, if we 
may apply that expression to the prophets, who have con- 
ceived and proclaimed the principle of governmental legit- 
imacy; and if, in either of the two kingdoms formed after 
the breaking up of David's monarchy a prophet has in 
consequence of the perpetual revolutions embraced the 
side of one pretender against another, or that of the 
usurper against the legitimate heir to the crown, this way 
of acting had other causes, and was in no way a profession 
of democracy (IV. Kings ix.). If one is bent on giving 
this name to the courage with which they pleaded the 
cause of the poor, the oppressed, the victims of misdirected 
justice, against an aristocracy of monopolists and usurers, 
we shall not quarrel about the expression though it is not 
correct. Nor is the name applied more fittingly to the 
good sense with which the prophets inveigh against the 
deplorable policy of exhausting the last resources of the 
land in order to make warlike preparations, ridiculously 
insufficient, against the forces of the neighboring powers 
between which the Israelites were inclosed. The prophets 
were politicians, not intent on recommending one form of 
government rather than another, but on reforming the 
spirit of the government in general ; on giving new force to 
the principles of right, justice, prudence, social morality — 
principles which were sanctioned by the religious idea that 
had come from God himself, — and on opposing all that 
might lead the nation to its ruin " (cf. W. R. Smith, " The 
0. T. in the Jewish Church," pp. 349 f.). 

6. The Prophets and the Pentateuch. — After con- 
sidering the relation of the prophets to the priesthood and 
to the kings, we must add a word about their relation to 
the Pentateuchal law. According to the latest view of the 

the prophetic office. 123 

critical school, the representatives of which are Wellhausen, 
Reuss, Maurice Vermes, Robertson Smith, Graf, and others, 
the traditionary view of the relation between the prophets 
and the Pentateuch must be inverted. Edersheim (Proph- 
ecy and History in Relation to the Messiah, New York 1885, 
pp. x. f.) states the question thus : " Whether the state of 
religious belief in Israel was as we had hitherto imagined, 
or quite different; whether, indeed, there were any Mosaic 
institutions at all, or else the greater part of what we call 
such, if not the whole, dated from much later times — the 
central and most important portion of them from the 
Exile; whether, in short, our views on all these points have 
to be completely changed, so that instead of the Law and 
the Prophets we should have to speak of the Prophets and 
the Law; and instead of Moses and the Prophets, of the 
Prophets and the Priests; and the larger part of the Old 
Testament literature should be ascribed to Exilian and 
post-Exilian times, or bears the impress of their falsifica- 
tions — these are some of the questions which now engage 
theological thinkers, and which on the negative side are 
advocated by critics of such learning and skill as to have 
secured, not only on the Continent, but even among our- 
selves, a large number of zealous adherents." 

a. Importance of this Question.— Such an inverted rela- 
tion between the Pentateuch and the Prophets carries 
along with it the most important consequences. The an- 
cient religion of Israel was nothing but a form of natural 
religion, as barbarous and cruel as the religious systems of 
the heathen nations living around Israel. The question 
about human sacrifices, about the Baal-worship, and about 
all kindred subjects, must in this case be rediscussed. The 
prophets are so many self-appointed, religious enthusiasts, 
and what are called fulfilled prophecies are simply a mis- 
take. " Even without their aid," says Professor Kuenen 
(Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, pp. 589 f.), " polythe- 
ism would perhaps have made way for the recognition and 
the worship of one only God." Still, the professor thinks 


it doubtful whether the monotheism of the people, not of 
the philosophers, would in that case have been ethical. 
Israel is therefore indebted for its dogmatic tenets concern- 
ing God and man's relation to God, and for its moral prin- 
ciples, to the activity and the enthusiasm of the prophets, 
while it owes its ritual constitution and its ceremonial code 
to the influence of the priests. The prophets made Israel 
worship Jehovah and observe the moral law; the priests, 
presupposing the prophetic work, added all the regulations 
which determined the mode of worship. 

(). Smith's View. — Robertson Smith (The Old Testament 
in the Jewish Church, New York, 1890, pp. 305 f.) expresses 
his views in this way : " The Hebrews before the Exile 
knew a twofold Torah, the Torah of the priests and that 
of the prophets. Neither Torah corresponds with the 
present Pentateuch. The prophets altogether deny to the 
law of sacrifice the character of positive revelation; their 
attitude to questions of ritual is the negative attitude of 
the ten commandments, content to forbid what is incon- 
sistent with the true nature of Jehovah, and for the rest to 
leave matters to their own course. The priests, on the 
contrary, have a ritual and legal Torah which has a recog- 
nized place in the state; but neither in the old priestly 
family of Eli nor in the Jerusalem priesthood of the sons of 
Zadok did the rules and the practice of the priests corre- 
spond with the finished system of the Pentateuch. . . . 
The Levitical ordinances, whether they existed before the 
Exile or not, were not yet God's word to Israel at that time. 
For God's word is the expression of his practical will. 
And the history and the prophets alike make it clear that 
God's will for Israel's salvation took quite another course." 

c. Influence on the Historical Books. — It hardly needs 
to be stated that according to this hypothesis the historical 
books too must be arranged and explained in a way differ- 
ent from the traditional view. To give a full explanation 
of the critical analysis applied to them by the critics would 
be out of the scope of the present Introduction to the Mes- 


sianic Prophecies. Still the mention of the critical analysis 
cannot be entirely omitted, since many of the interpreta- 
tions given by the critics are based on their view of the 
historical books. "The historical books of the Old Testa- 
ment," says Professor Driver (Introduction to the Literature 
of the Old Testament, New York, 1892, pp. 2 ff.), " form two 
series: one consisting of the books from Genesis to II. Kings, 
embracing the period from the creation to the release of 
Jehoiachin from his imprisonment in Babylon, B.C. 5G2; 
the other comprising the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and 
Nehemiah, beginning with Adam and ending with the second 
visit of Nehemiah to Jerusalem in B.C. 432. Though differing 
from each other materially in scope and manner of treat- 
ment, these two series are nevertheless both constructed 
upon a similar plan : no entire book in either series consists 
of a single original work; but older writings or sources have 
been combined by a compiler in such a manner that the 
points of juncture are often plainly discernible, and the 
sources are in consequence callable of being separated from 
one another. The authors of the Hebrew historical books 
— except the shortest, as Ruth and Esther — do not, as a 
modern historian would do, rewrite the matter in their 
own language; they excerpt from the sources at their dis- 
posal such passages as are suitable to their purpose, and in- 
corporate them in their work, sometimes adding matter of 
their own, but often (as it seems) introducing only such 
modifications of form as are necessary for the purpose of 
fitting them together, or accommodating them to their plan/' 
And later on (pp. G ff.) the author applies his general princi- 
ples to the book of Genesis in particular: "As soon as the 
book is studied with sufficient attention, phenomena dis- 
close themselves which show incontrovertibly that it is 
composed of distinct documents or sources, which have 
been welded together by a later compiler or redactor into a 
continuous whole. These phenomena are very numerous, 
but they may be reduced in the main to the two following 
heads: (1) The same event is doubly recorded; (2) The 


language, and frequently the representation as well, varies 
in different sections. . . . The sections homogeneous in style 
and character with [Gen.] I. 1— II. 4 a recur at intervals, not 
in Genesis only, but in the following books to Josue inclusive ; 
and when disengaged from the rest of the narrative, and 
read consecutively, are found to constitute a nearly com- 
plete whole, containing a systematic account of the origines 
of Israel, treating with particular minuteness the various 
ceremonial institutions of the ancient Hebrews, and dis- 
playing a consistent regard for chronological and other 
statistical data, which entitles it to be considered as the 
framework of our present Ilexateuch. This source or 
document has received different names suggested by one or 
other of the various characteristics attaching to it. . . . More 
recently by Wellhausen, Kuenen, and Delitzsch it has been 
called the Priests' Code. This last designation is in strict- 
ness applicable only to the ceremonial sections in Exodus- 
Numbers; these, however, form such a large and character- 
istic portion of the work that the title may not unsuitably 
be extended so as to embrace the whole; and it may be rep- 
resented conveniently, for the sake of brevity, by the let- 
ter P 2 . . . . The parts of Genesis which remain after the 
separation of P have next to be considered. These also, as 
it seems, are not homogeneous in structure. Especially 
from c. 20 onwards the narrative exhibits marks of compo- 
sition; and the component parts, though not differing from 
one another in diction and style so widely as either differs 
from P, and being so welded together that the lines of de- 
marcation between them frequently cannot be fixed with 
certainty, appear nevertheless to be plainly discernible. 
Thus in 20, 1-17, our attention is arrested by the use of 
the term God (Elohim), while in c. 18, 19 (except 19, 29), 
and in the similar narrative 12: 10-20, the term Jehovah 
is uniformly employed. For such a variation in similar 
and consecutive chapters no plausible explanation can be 
assigned except diversity of authorship. At the same time 
the fact that Elohim is not here accompanied by the other 


criteria of P's style forbids our assigning the sections thus 
characterized to that source. It seems thus that the parts 
of Genesis which remain after the separation of P are 
formed by the combination of two narratives, originally 
independent, though covering largely the same ground, 
which have been united by a subsequent editor, who also 
contributed inconsiderable additions of his own into a 
single, continuous narrative. One of these sources, from 
its use of the name Jahweh, is now generally denoted by the 
letter J; the other, in which the name Elohim is preferred, 
is denoted similarly by E; and the work formed by the 
combination of the two is referred to by the double letters 
J E." 

d. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers.— Traces of the same 
sources are found in the books Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 
with the exception of Lev. xvh.-xxvi., which seems to spring 
from a different origin, and has been denoted by the letter II 
on account of its special laws of holiness. As to Deuter- 
onomy, its structure is relatively simple, and bears the marks 
of being the work of a single author, who has taken as the 
basis of his discourses partly the narrative and laws of JE as 
they exist in the previous books of the Pentateuch, partly laws 
derived from other sources, and who also towards the end of 
his work has incorporated extracts from JE, recording inci- 
dents connected with the death of Moses. One of the final 
redactors of the Pentateuch has likewise towards the end 
of the book introduced notices of P relating to the 
same occasion. Finally, the book of Josue is said to be a 
continuation of the documents used in the formation of 
the Pentateuch. In c. i.-xii. the sources JE are mainly 
used, while in the subsequent chapters xiii.-xxiv. the work of 
P predominates, being expanded by a Deuteronomic editor, 
who may be called D\ 

e. Chronological Order of Sources. — If it be asked what 
is the chronological order and the relative position of the 
various sources, it must be confessed that not all the critics 
are at one on these points. The more commonly received 


opinion concerning the age is the following: J is placed 
between 850 and 800 B.C., E about 750 B.C., I) between G95 
and 621 B.C., JED about 600 B.C.; the Priests' Code follows 
the 4me of Ezechiel, who began the writing of the ceremo- 
nial law in c. xl.-xlviii.; P 1 or II (Lev. xvii.-xxvi.) was 
formed after Ezechiel's manner, and the historical portion 
seems to have been added to II according to the narrative of 
JE, but according to the conception of Esdras (444 B.C.). 
The last redactor compiled out of all these documents what 
may be called the Magna Charta of Israel, between the 
years 444 and 280 B.C. Hence the Hexateuch, according to 
this view, may be represented : 

J + E + D + P' + P 2 +P 3 
Rje Rd * R 

/. The Hexateuch a Development of Prophetic Doctrine. — 

Ezechiel's influence on the Priests' Code has already been 
mentioned. Still, in view of the principles which predom- 
inate in it, and in contradistinction to the Priests' Code, 
JE is said to constitute the prophetical narrative of the 
Hexateuch. Deuteronomy is styled a prophetic reformu- 
lation and adaptation to new needs of an older legislation. 
It appears, therefore, that, far from giving a legal standing 
to the prophets, the Hexateuch is nothing but a develop- 
ment of the prophetic teaching [cf. II. Hupfeld, Die 
Q.uellen der Genesis, 1853; H. Ewald, History of Israel 
(3d ed. 1864 if.; transl. Longmans, 1869 ff.); K. II. Graf, 
Die geschichtlichen Bi'icher des A. T., 1866; Noldeke, Die 
alttestamentliche Literatur, 1868; Untersuchungen zur 
Kritik des A. T., 1869; J. Wellhausen, Die Composition 
des Hexateuchs in the Jahrbiicher f iir deutsche Theologie, 
XXI. (1876) pp. 392-450; 531-602; XXII. pp. 407-479; 
Die Composition des Hexateuchs und der historischen 
Bucher des A. T., 1889; Geschichte Israel's, I. 1878, re- 
printed as Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israel's, 1883 fT., 
and translated as History of Israel (A. and C. Black, 1885); 


Ed. Reuss, La Bible (transl. with notes and Introductions), 
vol. i. pp. 1-271; F. Delitzsch, 12 Pent, kritische Studien 
in the Zeitschrift fur kirchliche Wissenschaft und kirchl. 
Leben, 1880; Urmosaisches im Pent., ibid. 1882, pp. 113 if., 
pp. 22G ft, p. 281 ff., pp. 337 ff., p. 449 ff., pp. 5G1 ff., also 

1888, pp. 119 If.; A. Kuenen, Bijdragen tot de critick van 
Pent, en Josua in the Theol. Tijdschrift, xi.-xviii. ; "YV. R. 
Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, 1881, 
especially lectures viii.-xii. ; W. H. Green, Moses and the 
Prophets, New York, 1883; The Hebrew Feasts in their Re- 
lation to Recent Critical Hypotheses concerning the Penta- 
teuch, Loudon, 188G; David Castelli, La Legge del Popnlo 
Ebreo, 1884; R. Kittel, Geschichte der Ilebriier, i. 1888; 
Prof. W. R. Harper, Hebraica, Oct. 1888, pp. 18-73.; July, 

1889, pp. 243-291; Oct. 1889, pp. 1-48, etc.; Prof. Green, 
Hebraica, Jan-April, 1889, pp. 137 ff.; Jan-March, 1890, 
pp. 109, ff.; April, 1890, pp. 1G1 ff.; Delitzsch, Comm. on 
Genesis, pp. 1-38; A. Dillmann, Die Genesis, 3d ed. 1886; 
Ex. und Lev., 1880; Num., Dent, und Jos., 188G; Eb. 
Schrader's edition (the eighth) of De Wette's Einleitung, 
1873; Ed. Reuss, Die Geschichte der Heiligen Schriften 
A. T., 1881; A. Kuenen, Hist. crit. Onderzoek naar het 
Ontstaan en de Verzameling van de Boeken des Ouden 
Verbonds, 2d ed. i. i. 1885 (translated under the title The 
Hexateuch, Macmillan, 1886) ; E. C. Bissel, The Pentateuch : 
its Origin and Structure, 1885; Ed. Riehm, Einleitung in 
das A. T., 1889 (published posthumously)]. 

g. The Historical Hypothesis is Unsound.— a. The Com- 
position is Impossible.— Having thus far stated, as far 
as the present work demands it, the historical hypothesis 
of the recent school of criticism, we must draw the atten- 
tion of the reader to a few considerations that seem to us 
to undermine the very foundation of our opponents' posi- 
tion. It evidently involves a double statement: First, the 
Pentateuch consists of several documents that have been 
welded into one; secondly, the documents thus used either 
are of prophetic origin or date from the time after the first 


prophets had fulfilled their mission. It must be remem- 
bered that even if the first of these statements were true, 
it would not oppose our position regarding the relation 
between the prophets and the Pentateuch. For of itself it 
does not necessitate that we should deny to the Pentateuch 
its Mosaic origin. If what Wellhausen says is true regarding 
the composition of the Pentateuch, it is equally true that 
no other book was ever composed in this manner. In the 
composition of a work many sources may be used and 
many authorities quoted, yet literary history would be 
searched in vain for another patchwork of the kind in 
which half a dozen or more books are cut up and pieced 
together in so cunning a manner. From a purely literary 
standpoint, then, the story of the Pentateuch, as told by 
the modern critics, is not only unparalleled, but anteced- 
ently improbable (cf. Edersheim, " Prophecy and History," 
New York, 1885, p. 51). 

/?. Language. — Besides all this, neither the language 
and style nor the subject-matter and the principles of the 
Pentateuch prove such a composite nature of the work. 
As to the language, the alleged proofs for the documentary 
hypothesis, as it may be called, rest principally on the 
varied use of the divine names and of the pronoun of the 
first person singular. Now both have been sufficiently 
explained without a recurrence to the varied authorship. 
Delitzsch has pointed out that the various divine names 
denote God from various points of view: Elohim is God in 
as far as he creates and preserves nature; El Shadday is 
God in as far as he is superior to the laws of nature, whom 
nature has to obey apparently against its own laws — the 
God of miracles; Jahveh is God in reference to the super- 
natural order— the God of revelation and of grace. Nor is 
the proof drawn from the various forms of the pronoun of 
the first person singular any more conclusive. It must be 
kept in mind, as Boettcher (Lehrbuch der Hebriiischen 
Sprache, 18G6-18G8, sect. 858) has maintained, that 
" anokhi " and " ani " occur nearly with equal frequency in 


the ancient Hebrew language, with this difference, that the 
longer form is used in quiet and stately style, while the 
shorter word stands in emphatic and lively speech. Since, 
therefore, the portions that are said to make up the 
Priests' Code contain for the most part legal enactments 
and other material of a kindred character, it is not at all 
surprising that the shorter form of the pronoun is almost 
exclusively used in them. But even supposing that we 
could not thus account for the various use of the divine 
names and of the various forms of the pronoun, it must be 
remembered that all the portions of the Pentateuch in 
which a similar usage of divine names and pronouns pre- 
vails pieced together will not constitute entire treatises. 

y. Style of the Documents. — The argument of our 
opponents, which is based on the difference of style in the 
various documents of which the Pentateuch is said to con- 
sist, is rendered ineffective by the very position of the 
learned critics. In their analysis of the Pentateuch they 
frequently divide not only chapter from chapter, but verse 
from verse, and clause from clause, so that only minute 
fragments remain as the constituents of the different doc- 
uments. Now no literary critic can pretend to judge the 
style of an author from scraps and bits, picked more or less 
at random from his work. And if at times there are any 
lengthier portions entirely assigned to any one author, it 
must be remembered that the critics first of all assign the 
various parts of the Pentateuch to various authors on ac- 
count of the varieties of style which they find in them, 
and then they cry " miracle " if they find a variety of style 
in the various imaginary documents. Any historical work, 
even of the most recent date, may according to this method 
be divided into various documents according to the variety 
of style found in its narrative, descriptive, and statistic 

o\ Alleged Repetitions, Contradictions, etc. — 
When our opponents speak of repetitions, contradictions, 
and parallel passages in the Pentateuch, and infer from 


their existence a "variety of authorship, it must be remem- 
bered that if this difficulty did exist, the proposed docu- 
mentary hypothesis would not explain it. The variety of 
redactors involved in the making up of the Pentateuch, 
as viewed by the critics, cannot be supposed to have over- 
looked the above-mentioned difficulties any more than a 
single author can be said to have written them. And if 
the redactors were capable enough to piece together the 
various documents in such a masterly way as the docu- 
mentary hypothesis demands, they were also able to omit 
or correct any contradictory statements, and to expunge 
bare repetitions of the same narrative. A detailed answer 
to the single passages advanced against us may be found 
in any treatise which professedly considers the Penta- 
teuchal question (cf. Ubaldi, Introduct., i. pp. 508 If.; 
Comely, Introduct., part ii. vol. i. pp. 97 ff.; Lamy, Comm. 
in Gen., pp. 15 if.; Crelier, La Genese, pp. xxi. if.; 
Vigouroux, Manuel biblique, i. pp. 291 if.; Flunk, Inns- 
brucker Zeitschrift, 1885, pp. 595 if.; Knabenbauer, Stim- 
men, 1873, iv. pp. 365 if.; Katholik, i. pp. 162 if.; Welte, 
Nachmosaisches, pp. 82 if.; Kaulen, Einleitung, pp. 167 if.; 
Zschokke, Hist. Sacra A. T., pp. 547 if.; Green, Hebraica, 
1889, pp. 137 if.; 1890, pp. 109 if.; 161 if,; Hengstenberg, 
Authentic des Pentateuchs, i. pp. 181-414; ii. pp. 346-442; 
Keil, Handbuch der Einleitung, i. 2, pp. 58 if; Lehrbuch 
der Einleitung, 3d ed. pp. 140 if.). 

e. Historical Argument. — If our critical opponents 
wish to proceed logically against us, they must base the 
whole weight of their argument on historical grounds, 
showing that historically speaking the Pentateuch cannot 
have antedated the time of the prophets. For we have 
shown already that what they say about the literary analy- 
sis of the Pentateuch and its multiple authorship may be 
admitted even by Catholics, provided they admit Moses as 
the principal and final redactor. Now speaking from a 
merely historical point of view, there are certain incontro- 
vertible facts pointing to the Mosaic authorship of the 


Pentateuch which ought to be explained satisfactorily be- 
fore the post-Mosaic authorship is maintained as a thesis. 
The testimony of Christ and of the apostles ascribes the 
Pentateuch to the great Hebrew legislator, and Jewish and 
Christian tradition alike name Moses as the author of the 
Pentateuch (cf. Mark xii. 26; Luke xxiv. 44; Matt. viii. 
4; Mark i. 44; Luke v. 14; Matt. xix. 8; Mark vii. 10; 
x. 15; Luke xx. 37; John xix. 22; v. 45-47; Acts xv. 13; 
II. Cor. iii. 15; Heb. ix. 19; Luke ii. 22; John i. 17; Acts 
xxviii. 33; Kom. ix. 15; I. Cor. ix. 9; Heb. vii. 14; Mai. ii. 
22; Dan. ix. 11, 13; I. Esdr. iii. 2; vi. 18; II. Esdr. viii. 1 
ff.; xiii. Iff.; I. Par. xvi. 40; II. Par. vii. 9; IV. Kings xvii. 
23; xiv. 16; Joseph, de Bello Jud. ii. 8, 9; c. App. i. 8; Matt. 
xix. 7; xxii. 24; xii. 19; John viii. 5; Acts xv. 5, etc.). 
Besides, the Pentateuch itself bears witness that Moses wrote 
a book of the Law which he is said to have delivered to 
the keeping of the priests (Ex. xvii. 14 ; xxiv. 4, 7; 
xxxiv. 27; Num. xxxiii. 1-2; Deut. xvii. 18 ff.; xxviii. 58 
-61; xxix. 20, 21; xxx. 10; xxxi. 9,14). And again, there 
are unmistakable traces in the Pentateuch of its having 
been written in the desert, by an author who was better 
acquainted with Egypt and its conditions than with Pales- 
tine and its geography and history (cf. Laacher, Stim- 
men, 1873, iv. pp. 212-219; Smith, The Pentateuch, pp. 
280-375; Scholz, Aegyptol. und die BB. Mos., Wiirzburg, 
1818; Vigouroux, La Bible et les Decouvert. mod., Paris, 
1879, i. p. 337; ii. p. 302; Hengstenberg, Die BB. Moses 
und Aegypten, Berlin, 1841; Ebers, Aegypten und die BB. 
Moses, Leipzig; Contemporary Iteview, London, 1879, p. 
758; Gesenius, Geschichte der Heb. Sprache, Leipzig, 1815 ; 
pp. 19 if.; Jahn, Beitriige ap. Bengel's Arch., ii. pp. 585 ff.; 
iii. pp. 168 ff.). The numerous passages of the Pentateuch 
on which this statement rests will be found in the authors 
indicated, and at the same time there will be found a satis- 
factory answer to all the difficulties raised against us by 
the critical school. In point of fact, all the much-vaunted 
historical difficulties based on the late evolution of the 


feasts, the sacrifices, and the place of worship disappear 
as soon as the scriptural account, contained in the 
historical books, is read without prejudice. The numer- 
ous references and allusions to the law which we find 
in the prophetic writings can hardly be disposed of satis- 
factorily, unless we grant the prior existence of the Pen- 
tateuch: cf., e.g., Amos ii. 10 and Gen. xxv. 2G; xxviii. 
11; xxxii. 24; Amos iii. 1, 14 and Gen. xv. 1G; Amos ii. 
11, 12 and Ex. xxvii. 2; xxx. 10; Lev. iv. 7; Amos iv. 4, 5 
and Numb. vi. 1-21; Amos ii. 4 and Numb, xxviii. 3, 4; 
Deut. xiv. 28; Lev. ii. 11; vii. 12, 13; xxii. 18-21; Pent, 
xii. G; Mich. vii. 14 and Gen. iii. 14; Mich. vii. 20 and the 
promises made to Abraham and Jacob; Mich. vi. 4, 5 and 
the Exodus as happening under the leadership of Moses, 
Aaron, Mary, and also the fruitless attempt of Balac to 
have Balaam curse Israel. Similar allusions to the Penta- 
teuchal books are found in Isaias (v. 24; xxix. 12; xxx. 9), 
in Osee (iv. G; ii. 15; vi. 7; xii. 3, 4; xi. 1; viii. 1, 12), 
and in Jeremias (compare Jer. ii. G with Deut. viii. 15; 
Numb. xiv. 7, 8; xxxv. 33, 34; Lev. xviii. 25-28; Jer. ii. 
28 with Deut. xxxii. 37; iv. 4; x. 1G; xxx. G; Jer. v. 15 
with Deut. xxviii. 31,48); in the latter prophet we find 
such a similarity with Deuteronomy that several critics 
have made him the author or at least the redactor of that 
book. In one single passage of Ezechiel, xxii. 7-12, there 
are no less than twenty-nine verbal citations from the books 
of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy; in the 2Gth verse 
of the same xxii. chapter there are not less than four refer- 
ences to the Pentateuch. In chapters xvi., xviii., xx. the 
prophet Ezechiel rehearses God's special love for Israel and 
the people's obstinacy towards God according to the narra- 
tive of the Pentateuch. Not to multiply similar instances 
indefinitely, it seems plain from what has been said that 
the Pentateuch has rather inspired the prophets than that 
the latter have gradually developed the Pentateuch. 

C. Osee's Testimony. — As if he had foreseen the 
hypothesis of the critical school of to-day, the prophet 


Osee seems to settle the matter under discussion beyond 
all the limits of any reasonable doubt. Even our oppo- 
nents grant that the prophet lived before the time of King 
Josias, and therefore before the finding of the law in the 
temple, C22 B.C. Now in spite of all this, the prophet 
writes, viii. 12 : "I shall write to him my manifold laws, 
which have been accounted as foreign." It is true that 
Reuss explains the expression "my manifold laws" as 
applying to the prophecies, but he must surely grant that 
his interpretation has no single parallel passage in the Old 
Testament to sustain it. Even the instances in Isaias (i. 
10; viii. 16; viii. 20; xlii. 4, 21), in which according to 
some scholars the word law is said to signify prophecy, 
are by Schrader, as Delitzsch testifies, granted to point to 
an existent law. Besides all this, the expression in Osee 
hardly admits such a reference to prophecies. For it reads 
"my manifold laws," which the prophet could have hardly 
said of his own prophecies. And since at his time the 
Pharisees had not yet imposed their countless exactions on 
the people, an unwritten law would have been rather simple 
than manifold, so that at that period there must have 
existed a written divine law. It is inexplicable how all 
notice of such a written divine law should have perished; 
hence we must infer that the prophet Osee knew the 
same written law which is known to us, and which is pre- 
served in the Pentateuch. 

7. Theology of the Prophets.— a. View of God.— To 
complete our idea of the Israelite prophets we must add 
something about their views of God and man, i.e., about 
their theology and their anthropology. In general it may 
be said that the doctrinal element of the prophets is inter- 
mediate between the Law and the Gospel, being in advance 
of the former, and less complete than the latter (cf. 
Elliott, " Old Test. Prophecy," New York, 1889, p. 44). It 
positively asserts the existence of one eternal, self-conscious, 
intelligent, moral, and free Being, who does all things 
according to the purpose of his will (Is. xliv. 6; xlii. G; 


xliii. 10-13; xliv. 6-8; xl. 5, 18; xlviii. 12; Dan. iii. 93; 
v. 18, 21; Is. vi. 3; Habac. iii. 3; Is. i. 4; v. 19,24; x. 17, 
21; xii. 6; xvii. 7; xxix. 19,23; xxx. 11,12,15; xli. 14; xliii. 
3, 14; xlv. 11; xlvii. 4; xlviii. 17; Os. xi. 9, etc.). It 
ascribes to him all the attributes in infinite perfection, and 
is at the same time, more or less, a commentary upon the 
doctrine of divine providence, by ascribing the future event 
which it announces to a dispensation in which the Creator 
is present through the directive influence of his power and 
the counsel of his wisdom; appointing the issues of futur- 
ity as well as foreseeing them; acting with his mighty 
hand and outstretched arm, seen or unseen; ruling in the 
kingdom of men, and ordering all things in heaven and 
earth (Jer. x. 16; Is. xliv. 25; Dan. xiv. 4; Jer. x. 11; Is. 
xlv. 18; Jon. i. 9; Jer. xxxii. 17; Is. xxxvii. 16; xlv. 18 fT. ; 
Dan. iii. 57 ff. ; Is. xlv. 12; Zach. xii. 1; Mai. ii. 10; Is. 
xliii. 7; Jer. x. 23; xviii. 6; Dan. v. 23; Jer. x. 13; Amos 
iii. 6; Jer. i. 10; Is. xxxvii. 26, etc.). 

b. Divine Names. — As to the divine names which the 
prophets employ, it must be observed that their ordinary 
appellation is Jahveh, though Elohim is not unknown in 
their writings (cf. Is. xliv. 10; xlv. 22; xlvi. 6, 9; Os. ii. 
1; Jon. iv. 2; Mai. ii. 10), and even Elah and El occur 
(cf. Dan. iii. 28; vi. 8, 13; xi. 36). The expression Jah- 
veh Zebaoth, or a modification of it (Jer. v. 14; xv. 16; 
xxxviii. 17; xliv. 7), occurs frequently, and is usually ren- 
dered the Lord of hosts. No doubt the prophets acknowl- 
edge God's power over empires, his supreme rule over the 
fate of battles and the distribution of victory (Os. xiii. 9; 
Zach. x. 5, etc.); in a few passages they most probably 
understand the expression Jahveh Zebaoth in the sense of 
Lord of armies (Is. xiii. 4; xxxi. 4); but if we remember 
that the phrase " host of the heavens " frequently denotes 
the multitude of angels (III. Kings xxii. 19; II. Par. xviii. 
18; Ps. cii. 21; cf. Jos. v. 14), or the sun, the moon, and 
the stars (Deut. xvii. 3; IV. Kings xvii. 16, xxi. 3 f.; Js. 
xxxiv. 4; xl. 26; xlv. 12; Jer. xxxii. 22; Dan. viii. 10), we 


may safely infer that the expression Jahveh Zehaoth de- 
notes rather the Lord of the heavenly hosts than of earthly 
armies. And far from confounding the Lord with the 
heavenly bodies, the prophets rather distinguish God 
against the gods of their idolatrous neighbors who adored 
the heavenly bodies as so many deities (cf. Reuss, " Les 
Prophetes," i. p. 33; Trochon, Introduction, pp. xlix. if.). 

c. The " Name of the Lord." — The prophets often employ 
the expression " the name of the Lord " to designate God 
himself. We may refer to the following passages as in- 
stances of this usage: Mai. i. 6, 11; ii. 2; iii. 16; Is. 
xxix. 23; lii. 51; lvi. 6; Jer. xii. 16; xxxiv. 16; Bar. ii. 32; 
Ezech. xx. 39; xliii. 7, 8. The " name of the Lord " in this 
meaning receives all the divine attributes; it is holy, sub- 
lime, great, dreadful, worthy of praise, eternally blessed, 
forever glorious (Is. lvii. 15; Ezech. xxxvi. 20; xxxiv. 7, 25; 
xliii. 7; Am. ii. 7; Is. lii. 4; Ezech. xxxvi. 23; Mai. i. 11; 
i. 14; Dan. iii. 52; iii. 26). Oftener still the prophets use 
the divine name to signify God's power in the world, his 
activity, the revelation by means of which he has communi- 
cated with men (Is. xxvi. 8). Again, the name of God is 
identified with his sanctity (Ezech. xxxix. 7; xliii. 7, 8; 
xxxvi. 22 If.; xx. 14 f . ; xxxix. 25; Is. lx. 9), and in other 
passages with his majesty, his dignity and glory, his saving 
power, his goodness and mercy, and the authority with 
which he endows his messengers (Is. lix. 19; Dan. ix. 15; 
Jer. xxxii. 20; Bar. ii. 11; Dan. iii. 26, 34, 43, 52; Is. 
xlviii. 9; Ezech. xx. 9, 14, 22; Jer. xiv. 21; xxxvi. 21; Is. 
lxiii. 12, 14; xii. 4; xxiv. 15; xxv. 1; Jer. xiv. 7; Ezech. xx. 
44; Jer. xx. 9; xliv. 16; Dan. ix. 6; Jer. xiv. 14; xxiii. 25; 
xxix. 9, 21, 23). 

(j. Mystery of the Holy Trinity. — At the same time, the 
Trinity of persons is at least obscurely implied in the pro- 
phetic writings. Emmanuel, the child of the Virgin, is 
to be the Wonderful, Counsellor, mighty God, Prince of 
peace, Father of eternity, and the Son of God (Is. vii. 14; 
ix. 6, 7; xlii. 1; Mich. v. 1, 5). In other passages the 


prophets speak about the spirit of the Lord, to whom they 
attribute intellect and will, and therefore personality. 
This spirit speaks to Ezechiel, resuscitates the dead bones, 
acts on the Cherubim, fills the prophet Micheas with 
strength, and is predicted to be poured out upon all flesh 
(Ezech. i. 4-28; ii. 2-9; xxxvii. 9-14; Mich. iii. 8; Joel ii. 
28, 29). In other passages of the prophetic writings the 
Trinity seems to be indicated still more clearly. Thus the 
Lord announces that he has put his spirit upon his servant 
(Is. xlii. 1) — a passage necessarily implying three different 
persons. Again (Is. xlviii. 16) we read: " From the time 
before it was done, I was there, and now the Lord God hath 
sent me and his spirit." Jesus too applies to himself the 
words of Isaias (lxi. 1) : " The spirit of the Lord is upon 
me: wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel 
to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, 
to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the 
blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the 
acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of reward " 
(Luke iv. 18, 19). Other passages distinguish the angel of 
the Lord, or the word of God according to a common 
interpretation, from the spirit of God (Is. lxiii. 7-10; Agg. 
ii. 5, 0; Ezech. i. 3; Zach. iv. G, etc.). Several Fathers, 
such as St. Ambrose (De Spiritu Sancto, iii. 21; de fide ad 
Grat. 4), St. Jerome (In Is. vi. 3), St.Fulgentius (de fide ad 
Pet. G), Origen (Horn. 4), St. Cyril, St. Procopius, St. 
Gregory Naz. (De Paschate), St. John Damasc, St. 
Gregory of Nyssa (c. Eunom. i.), St. Athanasius (De In- 
carnatione, c. Arian. n. 10), maintain that there is a 
vestige of the Holy Trinity in the threefold Holy of the 
Seraphim as recorded by the prophet Isaias (vi. 3). 

e. Prophetic Anthropomorphism. — If it be objected that 
the frequent anthropomorphisms of the prophetic writings 
are signs of their low and imperfect idea of God, it must 
be remembered that they could not have spoken differently 
had they wished to do so. The language they used was 
not capable of expressing abstract and highly spiritual 


ideas except by image and metaphor. Many of the meta- 
phorical expressions of the prophetic writings are used even 
to-day without on that account testifying that our ideas of 
God are low and material. Even we speak of the arm of 
God, of his eyes, his anger and justice and mercy; nor 
can we reasonably expect the prophets to be more in ad- 
vance of their time in purely scientific matters, such as the 
shape and form of the earth, the constitution of matter, 
the theory of the stars. In all these points they naturally 
speak as the men of their day spoke; for the spirit of God 
did not inspire them in order to advance the world in the 
sphere of science, but to instruct the human race in the 
knowledge of salvation (cf. Reuss, Les Prophetes, i. pp. 
29 ff.; Zschokke, Theologie der Propheten des alten Testa- 
mentes, Freiburg, 1877; Scholz, Handbuch cler Theologie 
des alten Bundes im Lichte des neuen, Regensburg, 1862; 
Delitzsch, Die biblisch-prophetische Theologie, Leipzig, 
1845; Ohler, Theologie des alten Testaments, Tuebingen, 
1873; Haag, Theologie biblique, Paris, 1870; Schultz,Alt- 
testamentliche Theologie, Frankfurt, 18G9; Duhm, Die 
Theologie der Propheten, Bonn, 1875). 

8. Anthropology of the Prophets.— a. General Out- 
line. — As to the prophetic anthropology, man is created by 
God, has a common origin, is endowed with reason, and 
is capable of attaining sanctity. Though man can make 
progress, he cannot save himself, but is subject to the rule 
and law of God, to whom he owes homage and worship. 
The Decalogue determines man's obligation to his fellow- 
men. But by this alone man cannot be saved; faith and 
hope in God are absolutely necessary to salvation. If man 
has sinned he must repent in order to regain God's grace, 
and without penance the sinner's destruction is inevitable 
(Mai. ii. 10; Is. i. 18; Ezech. xii. 2; Is. ii. 3, 4. 5; Jer. ii. 
22; xiii. 23; Os. xiii. 9; Is. i. 19, 20; Ezech. xviii. 4, 5, 9; 
xxxiii. 11-16; Dan. iv. 34, 35; Is. Ix. 6, 7; Mai. i. 11; iii- 
10; Ilabac. ii. 4; Is. xxvi. 3, 4; Is. Iv. 7; Ezech. xxxvi. 31; 
xx. 43). 


b. Beginning and End. — Man's beginning and end are 
also very minutely described by the prophets. God gives 
the life of man and takes it away. Life itself is extremely 
frail: it passes away as the flower of the field; men disap- 
pear as the flies, and they die as the smoking flax is extin- 
guished. Death is the separation of body and soul; it is a 
sleep and a rest, though at the same time it is the wages of 
sin, and general because sin is general. Even the prophets 
are not exempt from sin or death. Often death is repre- 
sented as the punishment of personal sin, so that it alone 
is able to appease the wrath of God. Though death is 
very bitter, it is at times better than life itself — the recom- 
pense, as it may be, of good works and true conversion. An 
instance of God's preserving the life of his faithful ser- 
vants we find in the three youths thrown into the fiery 
furnace. Personifications of death also occur in the pro- 
phetic writings: it has hands, penetrates into the house by 
any opening, sends desolation through the land, is as insa- 
tiable as are the barbarian devastators of the civilized 
world. Metaphorically death denotes sin, and in this 
manner the sinner's conversion is symbolized by the resur- 
rection (Is. xxxix. 12, 13; xxxi. 1, 3; xl. 6; xxxvii. 27; 
lxiv. 5; ii. 22; li. 12; li. G, 8; xliii. 17; Jer. xv. 9; Is. liii. 
12; Lam. ii. 12; Bar. ii. 17; Is. xvii. 1G; Jer. iv. 10; Jon. 
ii. 6; Jer. iv. 31; Jon. iv. 8; Is. xxxviii. 17; Jon. iv. 2; 
Jer. xviii. 18; Jer. li. 39, 57; Dan. xii. 2; Is. xiv. 8, 18; 
lvii. 1; Ezech. xxxi. 18; xxxii. 21, 28, 30; Nah. iii. 18; Is. 
vi. 5; Zach. i. 5; Is. xxii. 13, 14; xxv. 8; Jer. viii. 3; xx. 
14 fif.; Ezech. xix. 5-9, 14-20; xviii. 21, 22; Dan. iii. 88; 
vi. 20; xiv. 21; Habac. i. 12; Dan. iii. 88; Jer. ix. 20; Os. 
xiii. 14; Habac. ii. 5; Ezech. xxxvii. 11-14; Bar. iii. 10,11). 

c. Sheol. — When man's existence on earth ceases with 
the death of his body, then his soul descends according to 
the prophetic writings down into Sheol. Whether we 
derive the word Sheol from " sha'al " (to ask), or from 
"shaal " (to dig), is of little consequence. In the one case 


the meaning of the word agrees with the prophetic idea 
of SheoPs insatiability; in the other it gives the equally 
prophetic idea of SheoPs being the world below, the land 
of the lower world, whose inhabitants are called the inhab- 
itants of the dust. At times the word Bor is used instead 
of Sheol; but it too has the meaning of ditch, abyss. 
The older prophets place Sheol in opposition to the land 
of the living; they consider it as a prison surrounded by 
walls and gates, and furnished with bolts. Often it is only 
another expression for death. Being essentially a subter- 
raneous place, or a ditch into which man descends, in 
which he lies down, and whence he can be drawn forth, 
Sheol is often opposed to the sphere of light: it is the land 
of darkness, the valley of the shadow of death, the place of 
obscurity. It has been thought that the state of the soul 
in Sheol bears analogy to the state of the body in the 
grave — that, in other words, it suffers the effects of the 
anger and the judgment of God. Others, on the contrary, 
see in Sheol the dwelling-place of the Rephaim, i.e., of 
those that slumber, of the feeble ones, the shades, of the 
dead — in a word, of those who have been separated from 
their bodies. All praise of God is interdicted in Sheol, 
and only the most sombre silence reigns there. All earthly 
power and grandeur is swallowed up in SheoPs abyss; the 
kings of Babylon rest there in company with all those who 
have died before them. In the description of the destruc- 
tion of Tyre and of Egypt, Sheol resembles an immense 
cemetery, a vault holding numberless dead. Whether the 
fate of all the dead is alike in Sheol is a much discussed 
problem; on this point as well as on the fact of the future 
resurrection the prophetic doctrine has been supplemented 
by the teaching of the Gospels. Still, even Isaias, Ezechiel, 
and especially Daniel have the idea of a resurrection of 
the dead. In the last-named prophet (xii. 2) we read: 
"And many of these that sleep in the dust of the earth 
shall awake, some unto life everlasting, and others unto 


reproach, to see it always" (Is. v. 14; Habac. ii. 5; Is. xiv. 
15, 19; xxiv. 22; xxxviii. 18; Ezech. xxvi. 20; xxxi. 14, 16; 
xxxii. 18, 24,25,29, 30; Is. xxvi. 19; Ezech. xxvi. 20; xxxii. 
18, 24; xliv. 23; Ezech. xxxi. 11, 10, 18; xxvi. 20; xxxi. 14; 
Is. xxxviii. 10, 11; xiv. 15; xxxviii. 18; v. 14; xiv. 19; 
Ezech. xxxii. 23; xxvi. 20; xxxi. 14, 15, 10; xxxii. 18, 21, 
24-30; xxxii. 19; Bar. iii. 19; Is. xxxviii. 17, 18; Jer. xiii. 
16; Lam. iii. 0; Is. xxiv. 22; Zach. ix. 11; Is. xxxviii. 10; 
Amos ix. 2; Is. v. 14; Habac. ii. 5; Is. xxxviii. 17; xiv. 9, 
10; xxvi. 14, 19; Bar. ii. 17; Is. xxxviii. 18, 19; xiv. 10, 11; 
lxiii. 10; Ezech. xxvi. 20; xxxi. 14-18; xxxii. 18-32; Is. 
xxvi. 19; Ezech. xxxvii.; Os. xiii. 14; cf. Bottcher, De 
inferis, rebusque post mortem futuris ex Hebraeorum et 
Grsecorum opinionibus, Dresd. 1840; Ohler, Veteris Tes- 
tamenti sententia de rebus post mortem futuris, 1844; 
Iiahn, De spe immortalitatis sub Veteri Testamento grada- 
tim exculta, 1840; H. Schultz, Veteri Testamento de 
hominis immortalitate sententia, 1800; T. H. Martin, La 
vie future, 3d ed., Paris, 1870; Halevy, Comtes rendu s de 
l'Academie des Inscrip. et B. Lettres, 1873, pp. 124-140; 
Mgr. Freppel, CEvres polemiques, Paris, 1874; Vigouroux, 
La Bible et les Decouv. modern., 1st ed. ii. pp. 391-404; 
Rohrbacher, Histoire de l'Eglise, ed. Palme, i. pp. 543 ff.; 
Amelineau, Contemporain du ler. mars 1883). 

Review. — The teaching of the prophetic books is there- 
fore, as has been stated, midway between the Law and the 
Gospel. It explains especially the principles of personal 
sanctity better than they are set forth in the Pentateuch. 
The prophets do not promise any merely temporal advan- 
tage or threaten any merely temporal punishment for the 
observance or non-observance of the law; their promises 
and threats regard mostly spiritual goods and the future 
life It is true that the purely ceremonial precepts are 
not in very high esteem with the prophets; but since the 
law had established the supreme principle to love God 
with all our heart and all our soul, with our whole strength 


and our whole mind, the prophets could do nothing else 
than throw new light on the explanation of this law with- 
out attempting to add to its extent. Thus the prophets 
really acknowledge the Mosaic code of laws with all its 
rules and prescriptions, and like him whom they predicted 
in word and act, they did not destroy the law, but fulfilled 
the same. 




1. The Prophetic Writings are inspired.— The first 
characteristic of the prophetic writings is their inspiration. 
Not to adduce arguments that may be derived from- the 
nature of prophecy, the prophets themselves insist on the 
fact that they were inspired by God or commanded to 
write down their divinely received communications. Thus 
Isaias (viii. 1) tells us: "And the Lord said to me: Take 
thee a great book, and write in it with a man's pen/' Again 
(xxx. 8), the prophet is bidden: "Now therefore go in and 
-write for them upon box, and note it diligently in a book, 
and it shall be in the latter days for a testimony for ever." 
Jeremias too received divine commands to write down his 
divinely inspired intuitions. His own testimony (xxx. 2) 
is unmistakable: " Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, 
saying: AV r rite thee all the words that I have spoken to 
thee in a book." And a few chapters later on the divine 
order is still more emphatic (xxxvi. 2): "Take thee a role 
of a book, and thou shalt write in it all the words that I 
have spoken to thee against Israel and Juda, and against 
all the nations: from the day that I spoke to thee, from 
the days of Josias even to this day." Similar words are 
met in llabacuc (ii. 2): "And the Lord answered me and 
said: Write the vision and make it plain upon tables: that 
he that readeth it may run over it." And though we have 
not the explicit words of God in the case of all the partic- 
ular prophetic books, testifying to their divine inspiration, 
our statement is nevertheless true beyond all reasonable 
doubt. Or did not the prophets fulfil part of their super- 


natural calling by writing ? But they could fulfil no part 
of their office without the assistance of the divine inspira- 
tion. And again, if God had not inspired the whole book 
of Isaias, e.g., how could the prophet call it the book of the 
Lord ? (cf. Is. xxxiv. 1G; Ezech. iii. 25.) It is for this very 
reason too that the Fathers compare the prophets to musi- 
cal instruments which the Holy Ghost plays upon, or to 
a most faithful mirror representing its object with the 
greatest minuteness (St. Athenagoras, Legat. pro. Christ., 
9. M. G,908; St. Justin, Cohort, ad gent. 8. M. G, 25G; St. 
Basil, In Is. prooem. 3. M. 30, 122). 

2. Spoken and Merely Written Prophecies. — It 
must, however, be noted that not all the single parts of the 
prophetic books have been written in the same manner: 
some were delivered orally previous to their writing; others 
were put in writing without having ever been spoken in 
public. To this second class belong all those portions in 
which there is no trace of an oratorical form, such as the 
book of Jonas, Is. xxxvi.-xxxix., Jer. xxxvi.-xliii., Iii., Dan. 
i.-vi., all the introductory and explanatory remarks which 
accompany the oratorical portions, letters and all matter of 
a similar character, e.g., Jer. xxix., Bar. vi., Is. vi., Dan. vii. 
if.; all those parts in which we have indeed the oratorical 
form, but whose subject-matter is entirely unfit for public 
delivery, such as the second part of Isaias xl.-lxvi., the 
last chapters of Ezechiel, xl.-xlviii., the prophecies con- 
cerning the future fate of the gentile nations: Nah., Is. 
xiii. ff., Jer. xlvi. ff. 

3. Abbreviated Prophecies.— Those parts of the pro- 
phetic books which repeat speeches previously delivered in 
public do not always adhere to the letter of the matter 
delivered. Jeremias, e.g., testifies that he received the 
command to write all that the Lord had spoken to him 
from the days of the king Josias even to this day (xxxvi. 2); 
still, it is quite clear that he cannot have literally com- 
mitted to writing all his public instructions delivered dur- 
ing the space of twenty-three years. The same compendi- 


cms maimer of writing is proved by Knabenbauer (Conim. in 
Pro. Minor, i. 20) to exist in the prophet Osee. The very 
title of the book shows this, signifying as it does the length 
of time during which the events recorded by the prophet 
took place. Then the concise and heavy style of the book 
renders it almost evident that its contents cannot have 
been literally delivered to the people, who would not have 
been able to understand such concise language. It seems 
certain that all the Minor Prophets followed this manner 
of writing, expressing their previous discourses in the most 
concise and orderly manner. That Jeremias wrote a com- 
pendium, we have already pointed out; Isaias (ii.-v.) fur- 
nishes another instance of a (Jreater Prophet presenting a 
summary of his prophetic activity during a definite period 
of time. 

4. Titles of the Prophetic Books.— It follows from 
what has been hitherto said that the prophetic style is 
more polished and ornate than is usually found in speeches 
delivered ex tempore. But from the fact that the spoken 
words of the prophets have undergone such an emendation 
of style and language, it does not follow that we must, 
therefore, assume the existence of one or more so-called 
" redactors." On the other hand, not all the prophetic 
books have been composed with the same care. Jonas 
among the older prophets, and Ezechiel, Daniel, Aggeus, 
and Zacharias among the later ones, begin their books with- 
out any title, after the manner of the historians. In the 
case of Jonas and Daniel such a proceeding was to be ex- 
pected on account of the historical character of their writ- 
ings. The other three prophets omitted the title perhaps 
to indicate that the conditions of their times differed from 
those of their predecessors in the prophetic office. Isaias 
and Abdias call their books " Vision," Jeremias, Osee, Joel, 
Micheas, and Sophonias call them " the Word of the Lord;" 
Amos in a manner joins the preceding two titles: "the 
words of Amos . . . which he saw;" Nahum, Habacuc, 
and Malachias express in the title of their books both their 


divine origin and their characteristic subject-matter: "the 
burden of Ninive, the book of the vision of Nahnni;" 
" the burden that Ilabacuc the prophet saw/' the burden 
of the word of the Lord to Israel by the hand of Mala- 

5. The Prophetic Style.— Since the prophets were sent 
to confirm by means of divinely inspired sermons and ex- 
hortations the pious in the law and to convert the sinners, 
thus preparing all for the new Christian dispensation, it is 
to be expected that they should write in an oratorical style. 
And the near affinity existing between the oratorical and 
the poetical style, as even Cicero has observed (De orat. 
1G), renders it antecedently probable that the prophetic 
style should be an approach to the style of the poet. The 
dilference between the mere prose style and the prophetic 
style properly so called is perhaps best illustrated from the 
writings of the prophets themselves, i.e., by a comparison 
between those passages in which they write as mere his- 
torians and those others in which they address the people 
with exhortations, threats, or promises (cf. Is. xxxvi.- 
xxxix.; Jer. xxvi.; xxxvi.-xli., etc.). Poetical metaphors, 
allegories, parables, and even the parallelism of members may 
be found throughout the prophetic writings. This same 
peculiarity lias been observed by Eibera (Comm. in 1. duo- 
decim proph. in Nahum Praef.), by C. Vitringa (Comm. 
in Is. Prolegom. Leovardiae, 1714, p. 8), and has been per- 
haps exaggerated by Lowth (Prael. 18 ff.). 

6. Obscurity of the Prophets.— Another and most 
important characteristic of the prophetic style is its 
obscurity. There can hardly be any reasonable doubt 
about the fact of the obscurity. Nearly all the patristic as 
well as the more recent writers who have made a special 
study of the prophecies have complained of their exegetic 
difficulties. St. Chrysostom (Horn, de obscurit. Proph. M. 
56, 1G3), Theophylactus (In Os. prooem. M. 126, 569), St. 
Cyril of Alexandria (In Is. xxvii. 13. M. 70, 609), St. Jerome 
(In Ezech. xlv. 10; in Os. xiv. 10; in Is. xxi. 3; in Jer. 


ix. 14; xxxi. 25; in Nah. ii. 1; in Jer. xxi. 1; xxv. 1; M. 
25,470; 25, 992; 24, 19G; 24,767; 24, 916; 25, 1303; 24, 
839; 24, 865), Cornelius a Lapide (In Is. Proleg.), Calmet 
(Proleg. in Proph.), Patrizi (De interpretatione oraculorum 
ad Christum pertinentium prolegomenon, Romae, 1853, pp. 
1 ft*.), Reinke (Beitriige, ii. pp. 33-92), Vigouroux (Manuel 
biblique, pp. 466 if.), Zschokke (Theologie tier Propheten, 
pp. 387-394), Hengstenberg (Christologie, 2d ed., Berlin, 
1856, iii. 2, pp. 180 ff.), are some of the witnesses testifying 
to the obscurity of the prophetic writings. But we have 
still more reliable witnesses than the commentators in the 
prophets themselves. In the very passage describing 
Isaias' prophetic mission we read (Is. vi. 9-13): " Go, and 
thoushalt say to this people: hearing hear, and understand 
not, and see the vision and know it not. . . ." And later 
on (Is. xxix. 11), when the prophet is describing the 
people's future knowledge of the prophetic writings, he 
says: "And the vision, of all shall be unto you as the words 
of a book that is sealed, which when they shall deliver to 
one that is learned, they shall say: Read this, and he shall 
answer: I cannot, for it is sealed." Jeremias tells his 
readers that they shall understand the counsel of God 
in the latter day, i.e., when the prophecies will have 
been fulfilled (Jer. xxiii. 20; xxx. 24). Ezechiel too 
(xxxiii. 33) points to the time of fulfilment as the period 
when the prophecies will be properly understood. " And 
when that which was foretold shall come to pass, for be- 
hold it is coming, then shall they know that a prophet hath 
been among them." The prophet Zacharias needs the 
explanation of an angel in order to understand the pro- 
phetic symbols which he has seen (Zach. i. 9; ii. 2; iv. 4; 
v. 6, etc.). The same angelic ministry we meet in the 
writings of Daniel viii. 27 and xii. 8 if. ; in the latter pas- 
sage the angel distinctly foretells that the vision will re- 
main closed till the time of its fulfilment. 

«. Reasons of Obscurity. — The fact of the prophetic 
obscurity being established, there can be no doubt that 


many of the prophecies are clearer and more intelligible to 
us than they were to the Jews in the Old Testament. On 
the other hand, as appears from the foregoing testimony of 
the Fathers and the commentators, many of the biblical 
prophecies are still a mystery for ns. These may be re- 
duced to three classes: 1. Several have not yet been ful- 
filled, and cannot be fully understood till the time of their 
fulfilment. 2. Others have been fulfilled, but are unintel- 
ligible to us, because we are ignorant of ancient history. 
This class of prophecies has been made much more intel- 
ligible through the recent Assyriological and Egyptological 
studies (cf. Vigouroux, La Bible et les Decouvert. modern, 
iv.; Brunengo, I/impero di Babilonia e di Ninive, Prato, 
1885, ii.; Knabenbauer, Comm. in proph. minor., i. pp. 
138, 295, 314, 3G2; ii. pp. 48, 312, etc.; Schrader, Die 
Keilinschriften und das A. T., 2d ed. pp., 382-455). 3. A 
third class of prophecies is obscure either on account of 
the sublime mysteries of which the predictions treat or by 
reason of the manner in which they have been proposed 
by the prophets. This third kind of obscurity deserves a 
word of explanation. 

a. Confusion of Tenses. — There is first of all a con- 
fusion of tenses in the prophetic writings: what is future 
is represented as present or even as past. The reasons for 
this kind of obscurity are manifold. St. Chrysostom (c. 
Anom. 7, 5; in illud: Pater si possibile est. 3. M. 48, 7G4), 
St. Augustine (In Ps. xliii. n. 5. M. 3G, 485), and St. Jerome 
(In Is. v. 25. M. 24, 91) maintain that the prophets use the 
pastor the present tense instead of the future in order to 
signify that what they predict is as certain as if it had al- 
ready taken place. But St. Chrysostom (In Gen. i. horn. 
10, 4. M. 53, 85) and St. Augustine (In Ps. iv. n. G. M. 3G, 
75) assign another reason for the change of tenses which 
seems to be more satisfactory. Since the prophetic revela- 
tion was commonly received in visions, they say it is nat- 
ural that the prophets should tell them as if they were now 
before their eyes, or as if they had been previously seen. 

1 50 1NTUOD UCT10N. 

Hence the vivid description of the Virgin conceiving and 
bringing forth a son, the glad announcement that a child 
lias been born for us, a son has been given to us, hence too 
the reference to Cyrus as if he were a king of the prophet's 
own time (cf. Is. vii. 14; ix. G; xliv. 28 if.; xl.-lxvi.; 
xxxiv. 16; Knabenbauer, "Der Prophet Isaias," p. 455; 
Reinke, Beitrage, p. 41). 

fi. Fragmentary Character of Predictions. — In 
the second place must be noted the fragmentary character 
of most of the prophetic predictions; for this too has given 
rise to divers misinterpretations of the Messianic prophe- 
cies. Hence it is that the Rabbinic writers have taken 
occasion to write about a double Messias — one covered with 
suffering and another celebrated for his power and glory; 
one the son of Joseph, the other the son of David and Juda 
(cf. Eisenmenger, "Das entdeckte Judenthum," ii. pp. 720 
If.). The modern rationalists have, on account of the frag- 
mentary nature of the prophetic writings, seen contradic- 
tions between the Messianic hopes as held out in the differ- 
ent prophecies. Joel, e.g., is said to have expected only a 
Messianic kingdom, while Tsaias expects a personal Messias. 
But St. Paul (I. Cor. xiii. 9) seems to have anticipated this 
difficulty when he says: "We know in part, and we proph- 
esy in part." St. Chrysostom (In Ps. xliv. n. 3. M. 55, 187) 
sees in this precisely the difference between the Prophet 
and the Evangelist — that the latter tells us all, while the 
former gives only a partial communication. St. Thomas 
(II. a ii. :ve q. 171, a. 4) insists on the same solution of the 
difficulty which springs from the fragmentary character of 
the prophecies: " The prophets do not know all that can be 
prophesied, but each one knows something of it, according 
to his special revelation about this or that particular point." 

y. The Idea of Prophecy does not involve Abso- 
lute Clearness.— If the unintelligibility of many of the 
prophecies be urged against us, it must be remembered that 
the prophet could not predict a future event more clearly 
than he had been instructed to do. But absolute clearness 


is not required in prophecy as such. All that is needed in 
order to have a true prediction is an unmistakable sign or 
picture of the future event in question. Now a sign or pict- 
ure need not always represent the object in all its details. 
Thus even a rude sketch may be said to represent a person 
or a thing, though the thousand little minutiae which make 
up the person's countenance or give expression to the land- 
scape may be wanting (cf. Jahn-Ackermann, Introductio 
in V. T. p. 221; Patrizi, De interpretatione orac. messian. 
Proleg. p. 3). The prophets often give us such a rough 
sketch of the future event. If they were to do otherwise 
two most serious inconveniences would follow. First, 
human liberty would, at least apparently, be diminished. 
For if certain historical events, absolutely definite in their 
particulars, were certainly going to happen, men might be 
tempted to doubt their own freedom in bringing them 
about. Or, on the other hand, men would have striven 
with all their might to render vain the predictions of the 
prophets. What would not the hard-hearted Jews have 
done to prevent the passing away of the Synagogue into 
the hands of the Son ? Herod's rage would have been 
nothing as compared with their endeavors to slay the Son 
and his Mother. The second inconvenience flowing from 
too great clearness of the prophetic predictions would be a 
lessening of their apologetic value. For in such a case it 
might always be objected that the fulfilment had been 
brought about designedly by the persons interested in see- 
ing it established (cf. Patrizi, De interpret, oracul. mes- 
sianic. Proleg. p. 2; Le Hir, Etudes bibliques, i. p. 82). 

6. Absence of Chronological Perspective.— One 
of the greatest sources of prophetic obscurity is the ab- 
sence of what we may call chronological persjiective from 
many of the prophetic writings. In this respect the predic- 
tions of the prophets resemble the pictures of the ancient 
Egyptians and Assyrians, so notably defective in local per- 
spective. The prophets saw the future events as we see 
the stars in the firmament; they may be millions of miles 


distant from one another, but to us they appear as almost 
contiguous. This perplexing confusion in chronology be- 
comes more distressing when the prophet passes from type 
to anti-type and returns again to the type without indicat- 
ing in the least his transition. Thus Isaias blends into 
one the coming of the Messias and the destruction of 
Babylon (Is. x., xi.); the redemption of the Jews from the 
Babylonian captivity and the redemption of man from sin 
(xl.-lxvi.), the complete destruction of Babylon and its first 
conquest by the Persians (xiii., xix.). The manner in which 
the type and its anti-type are at times blended into one is 
thus described by Le Hir (fttudes bibliques, i. pp. 81 ff.) : 
" Very often there is only one meaning in the prophecies, 
but an extended one, and the division is only apparent in 
the particular applications one can make of it. At other 
times the text sets two objects made after the same 
pattern before our eyes, and outlines them at the same 
time. Imagine two palaces of unequal dimensions, but 
offering nearly the same arrangement of rooms, courts, 
corridors, etc. The smaller one is nearer to you, and so 
situated that if it were transparent as crystal your eye 
would catch with one glance the outlines and the shape of 
both. If, on the contrary, this transparency were veiled, 
unequal or intermittent, you would need several combi- 
nations to complete in your mind the picture of the larger 
edifice, but you could not doubt about its existence nor 
about its principal features. Thus it is with a prophecy 
having a double object. The nearer object seems at times 
to vanish in order to let the more important and greater 
event which occupies the background shine through in all 
its brilliancy. At other times the nearer outlines are the 
darker ones, and they partially conceal those behind. But 
our reason, following the lead of analogy, easily restores to 
each of the two objects what the eye discovers only con- 
fusedly" (cf. Reinke, Beitrage, ii. p. 42; Vigouroux, Ma- 
nuel biblique, ii. p. 468). 
e. Chronological Accuracy is not always want- 


ixg. — Still it must not be imagined that the prophetic 
predictions are always absolutely indistinct in point of 
chronology. Thus Isaias clearly announces that Ephraim 
will cease to be a people after sixty-five years (vii. 8), the 
glory of Moab will vanish after three years (xvi. 14); Egypt 
and Ethiopia too have a period of three years assigned 
them (xx. 3) ; the glory of Cedar will be taken away in one 
year (xxi. 16; cf. xxiii. 15; xxix. 1; xxxii. 10; xxxviii. 5; 
Jer. xxv. 12; xxvii. 7; xxix. 10; xxviii. 1G; Ezech. xxiv. 1; 
xxix. 11; Dan. ix. 25 ft'.; Zschokke, 1. c, p. 390). Who- 
ever grants God the power of foreseeing the future, need 
not seek for artificial ways of explaining all such definite 
predictions. They have not been forged after the event 
had taken place, nor are they later glosses added to the 
text; nor, again, have their numbers a merely symbolic 
meaning. Where we are unable to trace the exact fulfil- 
ment according to the letter of the prophecy, we must im- 
pute the defect to our ignorance of history, and not to the 
falsity of the prophetic prediction. In other passages the 
prophets give no notice at all of the time at which the 
event foretold will occur. Instances of this we find in Is. 
i. 24; ii. 9 ft.; iii. 1G ft., etc. Then again, the chrono- 
logical determination of the prophetic predictions is vague, 
so that they differ little from the preceding class. Such is 
the case in Is. xvii. 4; xviii. 7; xix. 16; Jer. iii. 16; ii. 2; 
xxx. 8; Ezech. xxxiii. 8, etc. But even in those prophe- 
cies in which the chronological order of type and anti-type 
has been blended into one, the Jews could distinguish the 
former from the latter. As now we can to some extent 
distinguish in the last prophecies of Jesus what refers to 
the destruction of Jerusalem from what refers to the end 
of the world by looking at the history of the former event, 
so could the Jews compare the historic type with the 
prophecy, and thus learn which particulars of the predic- 
tion referred to the anti-type. In other instances the gap 
of chronology in the one prophet is filled out by clearer 

1 54 INTIIOT) UCT10N. 

determinations of another. An instance of this we see in 
Is. xiii. 22, as compared with Jer. xxv. 12. 

C. Prophetic Imagery. — Since the prophets were mostly 
illumined by visions, the use of imagery is very frequent in 
their predictions. For they do not speak of the future in 
abstract terms, but commonly by means of the same images 
they themselves had seen. Now such prophetic images 
are either types or they are symbols. A word must be said 
of each in order that the obscurity resulting from this 
manner of speech may be removed. 

1. The Typical Sense. — The typical sense of Scripture 
in general is the meaning the Holy Ghost intends to con- 
vey by means of the matter narrated. It is distinct from 
the literal meaning, because the latter is conveyed by the 
words themselves, while the former is expressed by the 
things signified by the words. The typical meaning is also 
called the spiritual, the mystical, the allegorical. The 
persons or things that God in his providence has or- 
dained to signify the future events form the foundation 
of the typical sense. It follows from this that only he 
who has the free disposition of the future can employ a 
type in the strict sense of the word. For him alone have 
the present persons or things that connection with the 
future which the foetus, e.g., in the course of its develop- 
ment, has with the fully organized body. The persons 
and things that God has thus assumed to signify future 
persons or things are called by St. Paul types, exemplars, 
shadows, allegories, parables; while the persons or things 
thus signified are named by St. Peter "anti-types," though 
St. Paul gives this name to the farmer class also (Rom. v. 
14; I. Cor. x. G; Heb. viii. 5; Gal. iv. 24; Ileb. ix. 9; I. 
Pet. iii. 21; Ileb. ix. 24). The typical sense of Scripture 
thus explained is threefold: it either proposes certain dog- 
mas of belief, commonly regarding the future Messias, and 
then we have the prophetic or allegorical types; or it de- 
scribes the objects of our hope, especially concerning the 
future life in heaven, and this is effected by means of 


anagogic types; or, finally, it shows us what we are bound 
to do by means of the so-called tropological types (cf. 
Gal. iv. 24; Wisd. xvi. 17; Apoc. xxi. 2). It must, how- 
ever, be noted that there is a marked difference between 
the typical and the allegorical or spiritual meaning of the 
Scriptures: the latter terms are used by theological writers 
of all the interpretations that are not strictly literal, 
while the first term has its own specific sense. In order 
to have this specific character, the type must fulfil these 
three conditions: 1. It must have a proper and absolute 
historical existence, entirely independent of the anti-type. 
2. It should not have a natural and essential reference to 
its anti-type. 3. God himself must have referred the type 
to its anti-type by means of a positive ordination. It is 
beyond all dispute that there are such types in the Script- 
ures: for proof we may refer to Rom. v. 14; Gal. iv. 24; 
Col. ii. 17; Heb. ix. 8, 9; Heb. vii.; i. 5; John xix. 3G; 
Patrizi, p. 119. 

2. Allegorical Types. — For the present we are princi- 
pally concerned about the prophetic or the allegorical 
types. According to Eusebius (11. E. i. 3. M. 20, 72) the 
prophetic types of the Old Testament principally refer to 
the triple dignity of theocratic kingship, Aaronic priest- 
hood, and divinely instituted prophetism. Hence the 
prophets describe the Messias as the great theocratic king; 
and since in David, who is the Messias' father as well as 
his type, they see a king according to God's own heart, 
they describe the Messias as possessing the qualities of 
David — nay, they call the Messias by David's own name. 
In a similar manner the Messias is represented as the great 
prophet, who is to teach all nations, and as the eminent 
high-priest who will destroy all sin by offering himself as 
a victim. The unbloody sacrifice of the New Law is named 
by the same name as the unbloody sacrifices of the Old 
(Mai. i. 11). The Messianic kingdom is in the same man- 
ner represented by a series of pictures and figures taken 
from David's kingship. Jerusalem is the centre of the 


Messianic kingdom, as it had been the capital of the theo- 
cratic reign; the Gentiles who are converted to the Mes- 
sianic creed are said to flow to Mount Sion (Is. ii. ; Mich. 
v.), to be born on Sion (Ps. lxxxvi.), to find their salvation 
on Mount Sion and in Jerusalem (Joel ii. 32). The ene- 
mies of the Messianic kingdom bear the names of the 
tribes hostile to Jerusalem and the theocratic kingdom. 
In the New Law there will not be wanting priests and 
Levites to offer the burnt-offerings and the other sacrifices 
(Jer. xxxiii. 18), the sabbaths will be kept without inter- 
mission (Is. xvi. 213), all the nations will come to Jerusa- 
lem for the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (Zach. 
xiv. 16). 

3. Difference between Symbols and Types. — The pro- 
phetic symbols must be carefully distinguished from the 
prophetic types. They agree in this with the types that 
they are persons or things assumed to signify something 
future; but they differ from the types mainly in their 
want of any historical existence. In themselves they were 
nothing but images shown to the prophets in order to 
reveal to them a part of the future. Thus Jeremias 
(xxiv.) saw two basketfuls of grapes, the one good, the 
other bad, to indicate the different fate that was to befall 
those that had been transported to Babylon and those that 
were still remaining in Jerusalem. Amos (viii.) saw under 
the figure of a hook which bringeth down the fruit, the 
approaching desolation of Israel caused by the nation's 
avarice and injustice. Isaias foreshows the shameful 
transportation of the Egyptians into Babylon by walking 
naked and barefoot. Jeremias breaks a potter's vessel, 
and thus announces the desolation of the Jews occasioned 
by their sins (Jer. xix.; Is. xx.). The use of imagery in 
the prophetic writings is also the reason of the dramatic 
nature of many prophecies — a characteristic to which St. 
Jerome (In Nah. ii. 1. M. 25, 1303; in Is. iii. 13; xxi. 3; 
in Jer. ix. 14. M. 24, G8, 19G, 707) attributed in great part 
the obscurity of the predictions. In Isaias (Ixiii.) the 


prophet asks, "Who is this that cometh from Edom?" 
In answer the conqueror himself speaks: "I have trodden 
the winepress alone. . . ." And the prophet is in conse- 
quence incited to fervent prayer of thanksgiving: "I will 
remember the tender mercies of the Lord. . . ." 

4. How to recognize the Typical Meaning.— It is in 
great part owing to the neglect of the prophetic types and 
symbols that the Jews did not recognize in Jesus the Mes- 
sias. AVithout considering that the kingdom of David is 
only a type of the Messianic kingdom, they expected a lit- 
eral fulfilment in the person of the Messias of all' that had 
been said concerning his royal dignity. And if modern 
rationalists point out Messianic prophecies that have not 
been fulfilled in Jesus, they are generally taken from the 
typical predictions treating of the Messias as the great 
king, the infallible prophet, and the universal high-priest. 
In order, however, to answer these objections we must 
briefly point out a few rules by which we may be enabled 
to distinguish between the typical, the symbolic, and the 
literal predictions. 

a. If a prophecy has been evidently fulfilled, the event 
must show whether it was intended in a typical or a literal 
sense. Before the advent of Christ it was doubtful whether 
Ps. xxi. 13-17; cix. 7 were to be understood literally or typi 
cally. But after Christ's crucifixion all doubt has vanished. 

b. Other prophecies are rendered clear by a comparison 
with parallel predictions. Thus the statement that the 
Messias is to be a mighty warrior is explained by the other 
that he is the Prince of peace (Is. ix. G; xi. 42); the 
typical character of the continued existence of the Leviti- 
cal priesthood and of the Old Testament sacrifices is evi- 
dent from the literal predictions announcing the end of 
priesthood and sacrifices alike (Jer. xxxiii. 18; Is. lvi. G; 
lx. 7; Ezech. xl.-xlviii.; Jer. iii. 1G; xxxi. 31; Mai. i. 11, 
etc.); that the Messias is not David in a literal sense is 
plain from those passages in which he is called the son of 


c. If the literal acceptation of a prophecy would de- 
stroy the very nature of the person or thing of which there 
is question, we must seek for a typical or a symbolic mean- 
ing (cf . Corn, a Lap., Proleg. in Prophet. Can. v. ; Forer. 
in Is. xlv. 8). St. Jerome (in Is. xi. G. M. 24, 150 f.), writing 
against the Christian millenarians (St. Justin, c. Tryph. 
81. M. 6, 668; St. Iren., c. haer. v. 33, M. 7, 1214; Lactant., 
Instit. vii. 24. M. 6, 809; cf. Hengstenberg, Christol. ii. 
pp. 138 ff.; Delitzsch, "Isaias," pp. 188 1'.; Niigelsbach, 
"Isaias," p. 148), ridicules all those who expect a literal ful- 
filment of Is. xi. 6: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb 

" Comely is of opinion that the same must be said of 
the literal fulfilment of Is. ii. 2; Mich. v. 2 against all 
those who believe that at the end of time Mount Sion will 
be placed on the top of all other mountains, or that all 
other mountains will disappear, Sion alone remaining (cf. 
Comely, Intr. II. ii. p. 304; Hofmann, "Erfi'illung und 
Weissagung," ii. p. 217; Delitzsch, " Isaias/' p. 61; Niigels- 
bach, " Isaias," p. 148). 

d. Finally, all those predictions that allude to facts of 
the Jewish history must be understood in a typical rather 
than in a literal sense. Thus we read : " If the Lord shall 
wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and shall 
wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, 
by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning. 
And the Lord will create upon every place of Mount Sion, 
and where he is called upon, a cloud by day, and a smoke 
and the brightness of a flaming fire in the night "(Is. iv. 4, 
5). At times the typical nature of the prophetic predic- 
tion is indicated in the words of the text itself (cf. Zach. 
x. 11, Hebrew text), and thus all difficulty is removed (cf. 
Reinke, Beitriige, ii. pp. 50-59; Hengstenberg, Christo- 
logie, iii. 2, 203 ff.; Comely, Intr. II. ii. pp. 288 If.; Meig- 
nan, " Les Propheties dans les deux premiers ch. des Hois," 
pp. 12-75). 

5. The Figurative Sense.— What has been said about 
the interpretation of the typical and the symbolic sense of 


the prophetic predictions applies in a measure also to the 
figurative or the metaphorical sense. Since the style of 
the prophets is to some extent poetical, as has been seen 
above, in the interpretation allowance must be made for 
figures of speech and poetic ornament of language. It 
may show great devotion to inquire why Jeremias (xxiv. 1) 
saw two baskets of grapes rather than of any other fruit, 
or why Isaias in his description of the Prince of peace (xi. 
G) mentions the sheep and the wolf rather than other ani- 
mals; but it is very uncertain whether we shall ever be 
able to arrive at any certainty in these minutiae (cf. Knab- 
enbauer, " Der Prophet Isaias," pp. 170 f.; 180). It seems 
much preferable to ascribe them to the poetic language of 
the prophet. 






1. Position of Ps. II. — In several Hebrew manuscripts 
the first and second psalms are united so as to form only 
one psalm; in others the second stands first in numerical 
order. The Greek editions of the New Testament by 
Erasmus, Bengel, and Griesbach consider our first psalm 
as a kind of introduction to the whole psalter, and begin 
their numbering with our second psalm. They do so on 
the authority of several Latin and Greek Fathers, who 
quote the seventh verse of Ps. ii. as occurring in Ps. i. 
But the greater number of manuscripts and editions of the 
New Testament, the Vulgate and the Oriental versions 
among the rest, quote the passage as taken from Ps. ii. 
A few manuscripts omit the number entirely (cf. Acts xiii. 

2. Structure of Ps. II.— In the Hebrew text this psalm 
consists of four stanzas, the first three of which contain 
seven trochaic hexasyllabic verses each, while the fourth 



numbers eight. In tbe first stanza the psalmist beholds a 
multitude of kings and nations in rebellion against Jehovah 
and his Anointed; in the second Jehovah derides the in- 
surgents, and declares that he has established his Anointed 
as king in Sion; in the third the Anointed claims an abso- 
lute dominion over all the nations of the earth by right of 
inheritance; in the fourth the psalmist exhorts the kings 
to serve and fear Jehovah, in order to escape his angry 
vengeance (cf. Cheyne, " Book of Psalms/' pp. 3 f.). 

3. Author of the Psalm.— Opinions: 1.— The psalm 
was written by Asaph, the prophet, when the Ammonites 
and other nations, in league with them, conspired against 
the kingdom of Israel and the king Josaphat (II. Paral. 
xx. Rudinger). There is no solid foundation for this 

2. The author is an unknown person, who speaks of one 
of the later Hebrew kings (Hensler). But greater power 
and glory is predicted of Sion's anointed king than were 
enjoyed by any of the kings of Juda or Israel after Solo- 
mon's time. 

3. Nathan the prophet wrote the second psalm at the 
time when Adonias, the son of David by Haggith, exalted 
himself, saying: "I will be king" (III. Kings i. 5). The 
psalmist intended to prevent the meditated rebellion by 
persuading his countrymen to embrace the interests of 
their divinely appointed king, Solomon (Anonym, author). 
But even if w r e grant that the word " kings" may desig- 
nate persons ambitious of becoming kings, we cannot 
understand how it can apply to Adonias alone, or how the 
word "Gentiles" (Goyim in Hebrew) can be used of the 
Israel itic tribes. The denunciations too are of a severer 
character than they would have been had they been ad- 
dressed to the Jews. 

4. The opinion that Ps. ii. was written by Solomon 
(Ewald, Paulus, Bleek, etc.), or by Ezechias (Maurer), or by 
Isaias, or at the time of Isaias (Delitzsch), hardly needs 
to be discussed, since the reasons establishing the psalm's 


true authorship will sufficiently answer all the arguments 
of our opponents. 

5. King David is the author of the second psalm. 
Proofs: a. In Acts iv. 25 the beginning of Ps. ii. is intro- 
duced with the words, "who by the Holy Ghost, by the 
mouth of our father David, thy servant, hath said." Com- 
pare also Acts xiii. 33, 34. b. The first forty, or, accord- 
ing to the Hebrew text, the first forty-one psalms consti- 
tute what is known as the first book of the psalter, which 
was, according to the more common opinion, written by 
David. In the Hebrew text thirty-seven psalms out of the 
forty-one are ascribed to David in the titles of the Psalms. 
c. The second psalm is very similar to Ps. cix. (ex.), 
which latter was beyond all doubt composed by David 
(cf. Ps. ii. 7 and cix. 2, 5, G). d. Supposing the Mes- 
sianic character of the second psalm, which we shall estab- 
lish in the next paragraph, its description of the anointed 
king fits very well into the time of David, e. Jewish 
tradition, too, ascribes the psalm to David, as may be seen 
from the words of Solomon Jarchi and David Kimchi. If 
Aben Ezra ascribes it to "some of the minstrels/' still he 
insists that it has reference " to David at the time when 
he was chosen king." Driver (Introduction to the Literat. 

0. T., pp. 362 f., note) does not consider that David is both 
prophet and king. 

4. Subject of the Psalm.— The subject of the second 
psalm is identical with the "anointed king." Opinions: 

1. All Catholics must hold that the "anointed king" is, at 
least, a type of the Messias; that, therefore, the subject of 
the psalm, at least in its typical meaning, is Christ Jesus. 
Keasons: a. Such is the tradition of the Synagogue 
Jarchi says : " Our doctors expound this psalm as having 
reference to King Messias; but in accordance with the 
literal sense, and that it may be used against the heretics 
[i.e., the Christians,] it is proper that it be explained as 
relating to David himself." David Kimchi expresses him- 
self as follows in the exposition of this psalm: "There 


are some/' says he, " who expound this psalm as referring 
to Gog and Magog; and that the anointed king is the 
Messias. Our doctors of blessed memory thus expounded 
it, and the psalm so explained is very perspicuous; yet it 
seems more reasonable to think that David composed it in 
reference to himself, and in this sense we have accordingly 
explained it " (cf. Coroll. 1a). b. Christian tradition agrees 
on this point with the Jewish ; the Fathers of the Church 
have made use of the second psalm in proving the divinity 
of Christ against the Arians (cf. Kilber, " Analysis Biblia," 
ii. 8, 2d ed.). c. The psalm is applied to Christ in the 
New Testament (cf. Acts iv. 25-27; xiii. 33; Heb. i. 5; 
v. 5; Apoc. xix. 15). 

2. Many Catholic and some Protestant commentators 
maintain that the anointed king and all that is said of him 
refers literally to the Messias. Reasons: a. From the 
above cited passages of Jarchi and Kimchi it appears that 
such was the Jewish tradition, b. The whole psalm in 
its literal sense well agrees with the Messias; the literal 
sense of several of its clauses cannot apply to any one else, 
e.g., "this day have I begotten thee," and "I will give 
thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts 
of the earth for thy possession." c. The fact that the 
terms " Christ " (Messias) and " Son of God " became 
proper names of the expected Redeemer (John iv. 25; i. 
49) is owing to the second psalm. This is also another 
proof that the Jews understood the psalm in its literal 
sense of the Messias. d. Ps. cix. (ex.), which is similar to 
Ps. ii., is commonly explained as referring in its literal 
sense to the Messias. A like explanation must then be 
given of the second psalm. 

3. Patrizi is of opinion that part of the psalm taken in 
its literal sense applies to the Messias, part to King Solo- 
mon. The reasons given in the preceding paragraph lead 
him to the partial Messianic interpretation, while the 
words of the prophet Nathan, " I will be to him a father, 
and he shall be to me a son " (II. Kings vii. 14), spoken as 


they are of Solomon, establish in his opinion the Solomonic 
relation of the psalm. Thus type and anti-type are blended 
into one. 

4. Some expositors have thought that Solomon is the 
king celebrated in this song (Ewald, Bleek, etc.). Rea- 
sons: a. In II. Kings vii. 13, 14, Solomon is called "son of 
God." b. Among all the kings of Israel Solomon was the 
only one, so far as we know, who, after being anointed at 
the fountain Gihon, was brought up with royal pomp to 
Mount Sion. c. It may be supposed that in the beginning 
of Solomon's reign the subdued surrounding nations would 
attempt to free themselves from the power of the Israelite 
king. This rebellion, being of but short duration, has not 
been mentioned in any of Israel's historical books. This 
last reason, however, is nothing but a gratuitous conjecture 
in support of a favorite hypothesis. It is stated in explicit 
terms in III. Kings v. 4, 5 and I. Paral. xxii. 9 that Solo- 
mon's reign was a period of profound peace. Again Ps. 
lxxxviii. 27, 28 promises that God will make David his 
" first-born, high above the kings of the earth." The above 
reasons, then, do not prove that the second psalm, in its 
literal meaning, must apply to Solomon. 

5. Another class of writers maintains that David is the 
subject of the second psalm. Reasons: a. David is often 
called the anointed, as in II. Kings xii. 7; Ps. xix. (xx.) 7. 
h. David wielded his royal power on Mount Sion (I. Par. 
xv. 1; xvi. 1). c. There were several periods in David's 
reign that agree with the description given in the psalm: 

I. The period when David was attacked by the army of 
the Philistines, after he had taken the stronghold of the 
Jebusites (Jarchi, Kimchi) (cf. II. Kings v. 20). 2. 
When David had gained the victory over the Philistines, 
Moabites, Syrians, and the other neighboring nations (cf. 

II. Kings viii. 1-15) (Grotius, Moller, etc.). 3. When 
the Benjamites together with Saul's family supported Is- 
boseth against David (Doderlein). 4. When David's son 
Absalom conspired against his father (Kuinoel, etc.). 


(I. The psalmist, whom we have identified with David, 
writes as of actual and present occurrences. But we must 
remember, on the one hand, that the prophetic vision 
commonly presents future scenes as actually present; we 
must consider, on the other, that at the time of the first of 
the above victories over the Philistines Sion was not as 
yet the Holy Mount, since the ark of the covenant did not 
then rest on Sion (cf. II. Kings vi. 1). As to the subsequent 
victories of David, they did not subdue rebellious nations, 
previously subject to David's sway, as the psalm describes 
it; but they were gained over the independent surround- 
ing tribes and the members of his own family. Though 
David was anointed he did not receive his consecration 
on Mount Sion, but first in Bethlehem and later at Hebron 
(1. Kings xvi. 1-3; II. Kings ii. 1-4). 

To sum up, the second psalm was written by David, and 
refers to the Messias, probably in its literal sense. By this 
is not excluded the opinion that some particular external 
occurrence or a chain of such occurrences was the immedi- 
ate occasion of the psalm. Nor is the opinion of those 
writers who apply the psalm only in its typical sense to 
Christ destitute of probability. Delitzsch (Commentar 
iiber den Psalter, vol. i. p. 9) well expresses the result of 
his investigation. " The question concerning the person 
of the Anointed," he says, "need not detain us long; for 
in the labyrinth of opinions one point remains certain be- 
yond all doubt: that the person of the Anointed, in whom 
the whole psalm centres, appears in that divine splendor 
of power which the prophet predicted of the Messias. 
Whether it be a present or a future king . . . who is thus 
considered in the light of the Messianic prophecies, in 
either case the Anointed is according to the psalmist's 
mind the person of the Messias " (cf. Cheyne, " Book of 
Psalms," p. 4). 


Ps. II. 

1 Why have the Gentiles 2 raged 3 , 
And the people devised vain things ? 

1 First Stanza. The dramatic nature of the psalm manifests itself 
by the abrupt exordium and the stage-like change of speakers. The 
prophet begins by picturing in general outlines his vision of the 
world's rebellion against Jehovah and his Anointed. Then the reb- 
els give utterance to their complaints and designs. The full meaning 
of the first stanza will best appear by a study and comparison of its 
parallel terms: "Gentiles" and "people," "raged" and "devised 
vain things," "kings" and "princes," "stood up" and "met to- 
gether," "the Lord" and "his Christ," " break " and "castaway," 
" bonds " and " yoke." 

' 2 Gentiles— People. The Hebrew plural for "Gentiles," "Goyim," 
without a qualifying noun or adjective, is never used of the Hebrew 
race alone. In the singular number the word denotes the Israelitic 
people in Gen. xii. 2; Jos. iii. 17; Is. i. 4, etc. The plural always 
either includes non-Hebrew tribes or is accompanied by a modi- 
lying phrase. Gen. xvii. 16 and Ezech. ii. 3 form no exceptions. 
The Rabbinic writers employ "Goyim" for all non-Hebrew nations. 
The Hebrew word for people, " leummim," is a synonym of " Goyim," 
and denotes strange nations. In the present passage it was inter- 
preted by the early Christians as referring to the tribes of Israel 
(Acts iv. 27) ; that this interpretation was given by divine inspira- 
tion is not certain, though it is probable. Perhaps it was owing to 
their rejection of the Messias that the Hebrews had been designated 
in prophecy by a name that was proper to an unhallowed people. 
Eusebius, St. Cyril, and St. Jerome apply the word to the degenerate 

3 Raged — Devised vain things. The word translated by "raged" 
denotes the tumultuous noise of a multitude, when murmurs of rage 
and threatening break forth into curses and deeds of violence. The 
corresponding Arabic verb expresses the loud bellowing of the camel, 
the roar of the sea, and the crash of thunder. In Syriac too the word 
with its derivatives denotes a loud, crashing, roaring noise. The 
word used in the Hebrew text for "devised" seems to have first sig- 
nified what is accompanied by great heat ; applied to internal actions 
it meant intense thought, which according to Aben Ezra breaks forth 
into words. Its object in the psalm is " vain things," in Hebrew 
"riq." Venema insists on the primitive meaning of " riq," saliva or 
spittle, the emission of which is, according to his opinion, a sign of 
anger (cf. Job i. 22 ; xxiv. 12). But the learned author has 
been deceived in his derivation of the Hebrew word. In point of 
fact, the primitive meaning of " riq " is " empty," " vain." Huf'na- 
gel's translation, " wickedness," is without foundation, and has been 
rightly opposed by learned critics, especially by Eichhorn. Judges 
ix. 4 ; xi. 3 ; vii. 16 ; II. Par. xii. 7 ; and IV. Kings, iv. 3 are pas- 
sages which illustrate the meaning of "empty" rather than of 
" wicked." 


The 4 kings of the earth B stood up, 
And the princes met together. 
Against the 6 Lord, and against his Christ. 
" Let us 7 break their 8 bonds asunder, 
And let us cast away their yoke from us. " 

4 Kings — Princes. The "kings of the earth " are not merely the 
petty kings of the neighboring Canaanitish tribes, or the Philistine 
and Syrian princes, as Grotins has explained the phrase (cf. Jos. xiii. 
3; Jndg. iii. 3; xvi. 5, 8 ; I. Kings vi. 18; II. Kings viii. x.), but 
the kings and sovereigns of foreign nations, as we must conclude 
from Ps. ii. 8 and Ps. lxxi. (lxxii.) 8—11. The literal meaning of the 
word translated " princes " is "men of weight"; but its more spe- 
cific signification of "kings" or "princes" is not uncommon (cf. 
Judg. v. 3 ; Prov. viii. 15 ; xxxi. 4 ; Is. xl. 23). St. Athanasius, 
St. Hilary, Kupertus, and Arias explain the phrases as denoting 
Herod and Pilate, Annas and Caiphas, respectively (cf. Cheyne, " Book 
of Psalms," p. 5). 

r> Stood up— Met together. The phrase "stood up against" in its 
Hebrew form generally means " to stand before," " to attend upon," 
" to serve," as may be seen from Job i. 6 ; ii. 1 ; Zacli. vi. 5 ; II. 
Par. xi. 13 ; the context shows that in the present passage it must be 
taken in a bad sense, denoting the uprising of rebels. The parallel 
phrase translated " met together," according to Venema and Michae- 
lis primarily signifies " to recline upon a pillow." Then it denotes 
also the rest on the couches placed, in Eastern countries, around the 
walls, on which friends sit to converse or to hold council. Hence it 
derives its meaning of "deliberating" or "taking counsel." The 
Turks use a similar figure when they speak of holding a " Divan." 

6 Lord— Christ. According to the theocratic system of government, 
Jehovah was Israel's supreme king, who ruled the nation by his 
anointed deputy (cf. I. Kings x. 17 f. and I. Kings xvi. 1 ff. , con- 
cerning Saul and David), 'l he Hebrew kings therefore held their 
office directly from Jehovah, whose official consecration they obtained 
by being anointed. In this regard the office of king was as distinctly 
divine as that of prophet or priest. Some writers explain Jehovah 
as designating God the Father, in order to distinguish from him the 
Anointed, his son, the more clearly. The conjecture that the light 
of reason is meant by Jehovah hardly needs refutation. Concerning 
the various views about the Anointed, enough has been said in the 
introductory paragraphs. 

1 Break asunder— Cast away. The word used in the 1 Hebrew text 
for " break" stands in the intensive form, and from its emphatic end- 
ing may be seen the firm determination of the rebel nations and 
princes to proceed to acts of violence. From Jer. xxii. 24; Judg. 
xvi. 9, etc , as well as from the corresponding Arabic word, it is plain 
that we might translate the Hebrew verb by "pull off" or "draw 
out," instead of " break." The emphatic ending is also found in the 
Hebrew text of the verb "cast away." 

8 Bonds— Yoke. The words translated "bonds" and "yoke" are 
perhaps more exactly rendered "chains" and "ropes." Some think 
that the Psalmist alludes to the chains which outgoing armies used 


1 He that 2 dwelleth in heaven shall 3 laugh at them, 

And the Lord shall deride them. 

Then shall he 4 speak to them in his anger, 

to carry in order to bind the prisoners of war that might fall into 
their hands (Paulus); others look upon the chains and chords as gen- 
eral symbols of dominion (Rosenmuller); others again see in them 
the sign of fixed resolve or counsel (Kimchi, Anonym, etc.); others 
think they signify the hardness of Jehovah's service for the impenitent 
sinner. Its sweetness to the men of good-will appears from Ps. cxviii. 
(cxix.) and Luke xix. 14. Flaminius, Arias, and St. Augustine ex- 
plain the bonds as meaning the law of God. 

1 Second Stanza. The second stanza is the exact counterpart of the 
first. It begins with the general description of the effect that the 
rebellion produces on Jehovah, and then introduces the Lord himself 
speaking. The parallel phrases are: " he that dwelleth in heaven " 
and "the Lord," "laugh" and "deride," "speak in anger" and 
"trouble in his rage." 

2 Dwelleth . . . — Lord. To emphasize from the start the contempt- 
ible smallness of the kings and princes of the earth, the Psalmist 
points out to them that their Lord dwelleth in heaven. The Hebrew 
text suggests, moreover, a sitting, quiet posture of the heavenly Lord. 
Whether the prophet mentally located heaven in the sky or con- 
ceived it as we do, does not affect the sense of the present passage. 
The anthropomorphic representation of God is in keeping with the 
vivid earnestness of the prophet. 

3 Laugh— Deride. In the Hebrew text we read "shall laugh" in- 
stead of "shall laugh at them." Hubigant and Kohler were of 
opinion that the object after laugh should be supplied in the Hebrew 
text. But it is omitted in the Chaldaic and Syriac versions too, so 
that it must have been wanting in the Hebrew text at a very early 
date. The present reading gives a beautiful climax. The Lord first 
laughs, smiles, as it were in compassion; then he derides his enemies; 
next he speaks to them in anger, and finally troubles them in his rage. 
St. Jerome remarks that the Lord does not really deride any one, but 
that his enemies render themselves worthy of derision. Venerable 
Bede, Alexander of Hales, Dennis the Carthusian, and Bredenbach 
think that the deriding refers to the day of judgment (Cheyne, 
"Book of Psalms," p. 5). 

4 Speak in anger — Trouble in rage. Kimchi and Aben Ezra mention 
some Jewish writers who render the Hebrew of the phrase " he shall 
speak to them" by "he shall destroy their mighty men." The verb 
found in this phrase has the meaning of destroying also in II. Par. 
xxii. 10. But the second part of the expression nowhere else signi- 
fies "mighty men," or heroes. Ezech. xvii. 13, pointed out as a par- 
allel instance, has a reading somewhat different from Ps. ii. 5. Ken- 
nicott's manuscript, marked No. 70, and dating from the thirteenth 
century, is the only copy the text of which would allow the above 
rendering. But since there is question only of an additional letter, 
"yodh," we may ascribe its presence to the negligence of a tran- 
scriber. The parallel expression, " shall trouble," is rendered by Mi- 
chaelis as "shall curse," on account of the meaning of the corre- 


And trouble them in his rage. 
" But 5 I am appointed king by him 
Over 6 Sion, his holy mountain, 

sponding verb in Arabic. This translation being without foundation, 
we must adhere to the Hebrew use of the word. It expresses first a 
hasty precipitate movement, as in I. Esdras iv. 23 and Eccles. v. 1; 
then it includes the troubled state of mind that accompanies haste 
in movement, as in I. Kings xxviii. 21; Ps. lxxxii. 16; Jer. li. 32. 
Faber imagines that Jehovah's speaking to the rebels and troubling 
them refers to thunder and lightning. All this he infers from the 
fact that in I. Kings vii. 10, the "voice of Jehovah" is used in the 
sense of thunder. Venerable Bede applies the phrase "he shall 
speak to them in his anger" to the words of the last judgment: 
" Depart from me." Dennis the Carthusian and others hold that the 
judicial condemnation to eternal punishment is referred to in the 
words "he shall trouble them in his rage." Schegg maintains that 
Jehovah derided his enemies, the Pharisees and the members of the 
Sanhedrin, when he confounded them before the multitudes and si- 
lenced them through the instrumentality of simple fishermen; that 
he spoke to them in his anger in the destruction of Jerusalem ; that 
he again derided his enemies, the pagan emperors and judges, by 
miraculously sustaining, keeping, and healing the martyrs; and 
finally, that he again spoke in anger by the destruction of pagan- 
ism through the influence of Christianity. 

6 I am appointed king. The words that immediately follow "I 
am appointed king " are actively construed in the Hebrew text, in the 
versions of St. Jerome, Aquila, Symmachus, and in the Chaldee and 
Syriac readings. Accordingly, we must translate " 1 have anointed, 
or constituted my king." Against those writers who insist on the 
correctness of the Septuagint and Vulgate versions, as agreeing with 
differently pointed Hebrew manuscripts, we may appeal to the im- 
propriety of such a translation. If faithfully rendered, it must read : 
" But I am appointed my king by him over Sion, my holy mountain." 
For even if it be granted that the " my" of the phrase "my king " 
may be explained as a mere paragogic allix, no faithful version has a 
right to substitute " his holy mountain" for "my holy mountain." 
A ben-Ezra rightly remarks that to anoint is, in this passage, equi- 
valent to constituting in royal power. 

6 Sion, his holy mountain. Sion is called Jehovah's holy mountain, 
not because the temple was built on it, for Mount Moria was the 
temple-mount, but because the sanctuary had been there before Solo- 
mon's time (cf. II. Kings vi. 17). The suggestion of Kosen- 
miiller that the Hebrew phrase should be translated " upon the hill 
of my exaltation " appears to be groundless. A learned anonymous 
author supposes that Sion is here mentioned because it had been the 
first among David's many conquests. But this opinion serves merely 
to prepare the way for his Solomonic interpretation of Ps. ii. without 
resting on solid arguments. Whether the phrase "over Sion his 
holy mountain " grammatically depends on the verb " I have anointed" 
or on the noun "king," cannot be decided from the text. Both ex- 
planations are probable, and give substantially the same meaning. 


1 Preaching 8 his 9 commandment." 

Sts. Jerome and Hilary understand the Church by "Mount Sion." 
St. Augustine says that the Church is called Sion on account of her 
firmness and pre-eminence. The figure is a common one in biblical 
and ecclesiastical literature. 

1 Preaching. Instead of the phrase " preaching his commandment," 
we read in the Hebrew text " I will declare the commandment, or the 
saying." In all probability, a new speaker, the anointed king, here 
interrupts Jehovah and continues his discourse. Stridsberg con- 
jectures that the whole phrase is nothing but a marginal note, indi- 
cating a change of speakers, which has been incorporated into the 
text. There is no foundation for this conjecture. The fact that our 
present Hebrew text differs from that of the Septuagint, of Theodo- 
tion, Aquila, and St. Jerome has led to a variety of explanations. 
Kohler thinks that in ancient Hebrew manuscripts the participle 
must have been found instead of the first person singular ; Bickell 
places the clause " I will declare the decree of Jehovah" before " I 
have been appointed king by him over Sion, my holy mountain." 
Michaelis goes so far as to introduce a preposition and a noun instead 
of the verb ; he translates " from the book of God, a statute of Jeho- 
vah." Rosenmiiller appeals to the Syriac version, in which no change 
of speakers takes place, and "my commandment " is read instead of 
"commandment." Hence he suggests the translation " I will cause 
him to preach my commandment. " Another explanation of the phrase 
is offered by Faber, who thinks that the Hebrew verb used in this 
passage may mean "to cut out," "to engrave." He translates : "I 
will inscribe upon a monument what Jehovah hath said to me." 

8 His commandment. The Septuagint version renders the whole 
phrase " declaring the decree of the Lord, The Lord hath said to me." 
It repeats "the Lord," and thus differs from the Hebrew text. 
Hubigant and Knappe suppose "the Lord" had been once omitted 
in the Hebrew text through the carelessness of the transcribers. 
Bickell translates by "my God" what is usually rendered "to me" 
(my God hath said). Seethe third stanza. Michaelis repeats "el" 
instead of "Jehovah." For " el" precedes the noun that we trans- 
late by "commandment," and thus serves, according to Kimchi, 
as a sign of the direct object, though taken in its usual sense the 
preposition means "according to." Fischer suggests the translation 
"I will declare what God hath said according to commandment ; " 
Venema renders it " I will declare the truth ; " Ernesti translates " I 
will speak according as the matter really stands." Other writers 
transpose the noun and preposition, rendering: " I will declare (or 
declaring) the commandment of God." 

9 Commandment. Patrizi and Ewald tell us that the " decree " or 
"command" referred to in this passage is the prophecy of Nathan as 
given in 11. Kings vii. 14 (cf. I. Par. xvii. 18; xxii. 10, and 
Ps. lxxxviii. (lxxxix.) 27). The more common opinion points to the 
words of the psalm that immediately follow as constituting the 
decree in question. Bickell places, as we have seen, the last verse, 
" I will declare the decree of Jehovah," before the words "I have 
appointed my king," etc., so that these last words form the beginning 
of the decree. 


1 The Lord hath said to me: " Thou art my son, 
3 This day have I begotten thee. 
Ask of me, and I will give thee 

1 Third Stanza. The third stanza contains in all probability the 
decree of Jehovah which the anointed king promulgates. Its parallel 
terms are the following: " my son" and "this day I have begotten 
thee," "the Gentiles " and "the utmost parts of the earth," " inherit- 
ance " and " possession," " rule with a rod of iron " and "break in 
pieces like a potter's vessel." Bickell lets the stanza begin with the 
words : "God has said," omitting " to me." 

2 My Son. Rosenniiiller (cf. Cheyne, Book of Psalms, p. 5) thinks 
that the anointed king is called the son of God, because according to 
the theocratic conceptions of the Jews their king held his authority 
from God himself, and was gifted with extraordinary wisdom, pru- 
dence, intrepidity, and, in a word, with all the gifts that befit a good 
monarch. For similar reasons the Grecian kings were said by Homer 
to have been born of God or to be nourished by God. But following 
the teaching of St. Paul (Heb. i. 5), all Catholics maintain that the 
word "son" in this passage implies natural sonship. The Fathers 
of the Church too agree on this point, all excluding the idea of merely 
adoptive sonship. 

8 This day. But there exists no such agreement concerning the 
parallel term " this day have 1 begotten thee." 1. Cassiodorus, Muis, 
Reinke, Crellier, Patrizi, St. Athanasius, and St. Augustine explain 
the passage as referring to the eternal generation of the Son by the 
Father. Heb. i. 5 implies the same interpretation; at least it excludes 
the temporal and figurative generation other authors give as the 
true explanation of the passage. According to this view, the phrase 
"to-day" indicates the eternal continuity of the divine generation 
(cf. Is. xliii. 13, where "to-day" is rendered "from the beginning" 
by the Septuagint). 

2. Sts. Cyprian, Chrysostom, Jerome, Fulgentius, and after them 
Steenkiste, and several others understand the generation of the 
anointed king by Jehovah as applying to the incarnation, the incar- 
nating action being ascribed to God the Father. "To-day" must 
then signify the definite point of time at which the mystery of the 
incarnation took place (cf. Cheyne, p. 5). 

3. St. Hilary, Theodore of Antioch, Angellius, Jansenius of 
Ghent, a Lapide, Vasquez, Schegg, and others think that the phrase 
"I have begotten thee" has reference to the resurrection of the 
anointed king, since the resurrection, more than any other event, man- 
ifested the fact of the anointed king's natural sonship of God. This 
interpretation is based on the argument of St. Paul given in Acts xiii. 
33 ; it is confirmed by the fact that Jesus declared on the day of his 
resurrection (.Matt, xxviii. IS) that all power in heaven and on earth 
was given to him. Some writers point also to Rom. i. 4, and to the 
analogy that exists between birth and resurrection as to additional 
proofs for this third interpretation. 

4. Beelen explained the generation of the Son by the Father spoken 
of in the second psalm as the manifestation of the Son by the Father, 
saving: " This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased " (Matt. 


The 4 Gentiles for thy 5 inheritance, 

And the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession. 

Thou shalt 6 rule them with a rod 7 of iron, 

And shalt break them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 1 ' 

iii. 17). The passage in Acts xiii. 32, 33 is explained by the authors 
who agree with Beelen as meaning : The promise which was made 
to our fathers God has fulfilled for our children, in constituting 
(showing, manifesting) Jesus, as is written in the second psalm. 
Dathe, after explaining St. Paul's words in the above way, applies 
the manifestation in question to the surrender of the Gentiles into 
the power of the Son. 

Finally, we must compare :he Psalmist's words with St. John's 
gospel (i. 14): " and the word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us : 
and we saw his glory, the glory, as it were, of the ONLY- BEGOTTEN 
OF THE FATHER, full of grace and truth," and with Heb. i. 8 : 
" but to the Son : thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever : a sceptre 
of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom." 

4 Gentiles — Utmost parts. What must be understood by the Gen- 
tiles promised to the Son is plain from the parallel terms "the 
utmost ])arts of the earth." Some writers explain this last phrase of 
Palestine alone by comparing it with Deut. xxxiii. 17 and Amos viii. 
12. But a comparison with I. Kings ii. 10 ;. Ps. xxi. (xxii ) 28 ; lxvi. 
(lxvii.) 8; lxxi. (Ixxii.) 8; Prov. xxx. 4, as well as the authority 
of Haymo, Bellarmine, and numerous other interpreters lead us to 
apply the passage to the whole earth, or to all its inhabitants. Christ 
seems to allude to this psalm in the words : " All power is given to 
me in heaven and in earth " (Matt, xxviii. 18) ; and again, "you shall 
be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, 
and even to the utmost part of the earth " (Acts i. 8 ; cf . Cheyne, " Book 
of Psalms," p. 6). 

5 Inheritance — Possession. " Inheritance " and " possession " differ 
in this, that the former denotes what is possessed by virtue of son- 
ship ; the latter, whatever is held by right of property or dominion 
(cf. Gen. xlvii. 11 and Lev. xiv. 34). As to the stability of the 
inheritance among the Jews, compare Num. xxiii. 1-11 ; xxxvi., and 
especially Lev. xxv. 13 and xxvii. 24. 

6 Rule— Break. Instead of the phrase " thou shalt rule," which is 
found in the Vulgate, Ethiopic, and Syriac versions, and also in St. 
Jerome's translation, the Chaldee version reads: "thou shalt break 
them in pieces." Doderlein, Kohler, Ilgen, and many other scholars 
interpret the passage as the former versions do ; but they must either 
change the Hebrew vowel-points or admit an unusual grammatical 
form in the text. Taking the text as it is, and not recurring to a 
merely possible verb-formation, we must render the passage in ac- 
cordance with the Chaldee version. Jarchi and Kimchi too agree 
with the version "thou shalt break," "thou shalt dash them." 
Moreover, the parallel member "thou shalt break them in pieces" 
requires a similar meaning in the first phrase. Since there is ques- 
tion only of the rebellious subjects, we cannot infer any harshness of 
the Messianic rule from this interpretation. Christ's treatment of 
his faithful servants is not described in the psalm. 

1 Rod of iron. The phrase " rod of iron " some writers interpret as 


And now, O ye kings, understand, 
Receive instruction yon that judge the earth. 
Serve ye the Lord with fear, 
And 2 rejoice unto him with trembling. 
3 Embrace discipline, lest at any time the * Lord be angry 

" sceptre of iron " (Steenkiste) ; others explain it as the iron shepherd's 
crook (Stange) ; others again see in it a staff or club of iron (Lacke- 
macher), while Bellarmine and Lindau translate the passage "with 
an iron power." It must be remarked that the expression does not 
necessarily imply a sceptre or rod of iron, but it may refer to an in- 
strument studded with iron (cf. Cheyne, "Book of Psalms," p. 6). The 
potter's vessel was proverbial for its fragility and uselessness after 
breaking. Hence the anointed king will destroy his enemies with 
ease, and ruin them thoroughly (cf. St. John xxvii. 1, 2: "Father, 
. . . glorify thy son . . . : as thou hast given him power over all 
flesh, that he may give eternal life to all"). 

1 Fourth Stanza. The fourth stanza contains an address of the 
Psalmist to the kings of the earth. Calmet tells us that the persons 
here addressed are variously interpreted. Some commentators think 
that the Psalmist addresses all kings in general ; others restrict the 
meaning to the rebel kings, of whom there was question in the first 
stanza; others again follow St. Jerome, who applies the prophet's 
warning to the apostles, the princes and rulers of the Church. 
"Judges of the earth" is a term parallel to the word "king." In- 
stead of the two phrases " understand " and "receive instruction," 
the better reading is "act wisely" and "receive correction;" for 
the Hebrew text suggests this latter meaning. 

- Rejoice with trembling. The passage which is commonly trans- 
lated "rejoice unto him with trembling" has given rise to a great 
variety of opinions. Instead of the first part of the phrase, Rudinger 
periphrastically translates " rejoice in him and in your worship of 
him;" Campensis, " rejoice that you have obtained such a king;" 
Ilgen, "trembling consecrate to him joyous dances;" Abul Walid, 
" be ye moved with trembling ; " Schulz, " surround him ; " Paulus, 
"rejoice abundantly;" Michaelis, "exult with fear;" and finally 
Jarchi paraphrases the passage as follows: "since fear shall take 
hold of hypocrites, do ye then exult and rejoice, if ye worship the 
Lord ? " The meaning of joy and exultation is on the whole the most 
probable, indicating that the Lord must be served with fear, but that 
the fear should be a filial fear. But Hengstenberg is wrong when he 
thinks of a merely external manifestation of gladness. Both the 
signification of the words and the dignity of Jehovah require truly 
internal sentiments of joy (cf. Os. x. 5). 

;i Embrace discipline. The next verse, which reads in our transla- 
tion "embrace discipline," has wonderfully exercised the ingenuity 
of interpreters. The Vulgate version follows the Septuaginf ; 
the Arabic and Chaldee versions too interpret the passage in nearly 
the same way, rendering it "adhere to discipline " and "receive ye 
discipline" (instruction) (cf. Bammidbar Rabba, 10, and Sanhedrin 
92a). We must infer from these renderings that the former Hebrew 
text differed from the present. for if we adhere faithfully to the 


And you perish 5 from the just way 

When "his wrath shall be kindled in a short time. 

Blessed are all they that shall trust in him. 

present Hebrew reading, we must render "kiss ye the son." This 
rendering is found in Pesh. and Aben-Ezra ; St. Jerome in his com- 
mentary renders "adore (adorate) the son." The explanations 
offered by Capped!, the younger Buxtorf, Viccars, and other 
scholars are nothing but conjecture. For some change the Flebrew 
word " nashsheku " (kiss ye) into " nassegu " (obtain, overtake ye), 
while others maintain that the expression "kiss ye" metaphorically 
signifies "embrace," since we eagerly lay hold upon whatever we 
kiss. Aquila translates the passage "venerate in sincerity;" Syin- 
machus, "worship in purity;" St. Jerome, "adore with purity ; " 
Doderlein and Ilgen, "kiss ye him whom he hath chosen ; " Bru'll 
and Cheyne amend the text into "seek ye his face;" Drusius 
paraphrases the verse: " Receive this person as your lord and king, 
and yield him the obedience and fidelity of subjects." To under- 
stand this last interpretation better we must call to mind that among 
the Hebrews the kiss was in ancient times the symbol of the highest 
respect. Thus were idols worshipped, as we see from 111. Kings 
xix. 18 and Osee xiii. 2; and thus, too, were kings acknowledged, 
as appears from I. Kings x. 1 (cf. Luke vii. 38). Job also shows that 
among the Hebrews " to kiss " often had the meaning of worshipping 
(xxxi. 20, 27). Comparing now the context of the passage in ques- 
tion, it seems probable that we must adhere to the strict Hebrew 
text, " kiss (i.e., worship, or do royal homage to) the son." The in- 
terpretation of Cenebrard and Titehuann, "embrace the doctrine," 
has had a certain celebrity in its own day. Bickell looks upon the 
words as an interpolated gloss, merely intended to show the Messianic 
character of the passage. 

4 The Lord. The Lord in the phrase "lest at any time the Lord 
be angry " is by some understood to indicate Jehovah, by others the 
anointed king. The former opinion is principally based on the 
Septuagint version, in which the definite subject is explicitly ex- 
pressed ; the latter opinion rests on the Hebrew text, in which no 
subject-noun is expressed, and therefore the one of the preceding 
phrase is naturally supplied. The Hebrew reads thus : "kiss ye the 
son. lest he be angry." 

5 From the way. Instead of the next phrase "and you perish 
from the just way," the Hebrew text reads "and you perish from 
the way." Capped and Venema explain this to mean " suddenly ; " 
for a man who perishes on the way perishes suddenly (cf. 
Ex. xxxiii. 3). Aben Ezra, Schroder, and Storr explain it as meaning 
"perish as to the way," i.e., "lest your way perish." Eichhorn 
interprets the "way" as equivalent to "life," and translates ac- 
cordingly. The Septuagint, followed by the Vulgate, translates 
"and you perish from the just way" or the way of rectitude, i.e., 
the way that leads to the anointed king. Some scholars prefer the 
interpretation, " lest you perish on the way," i.e., during the progress 
of your rebellion, before you have attained your end. 

6 When his wrath. Some interpreters connect the last two verses 


Corollary: The Messias is the Son of God. 

1. In the Light of Christian Revelation.— It has 

been shown in the explanation of the third stanza that the 
anointed king is the son of God (Heb. i. 5; v. 5; Acts 
xiii. 32, 33; iv. 25, 2G; cf. Kilber, Analysis Bibl. ii. p. 8, 
notes); we have also seen that the psalm is Messianic, i.e., 
that the anointed king is identical with the promised 
Messias. The inference that the Messias is the son of 
God is therefore unavoidable. Those who contend that 
this sonship may be one by adoption, not by generation, 
must be referred to the text of the psalm itself. For 
though the title "son of God" is throughout the Old 
Testament not un frequently given to the earthly leaders 
of the theocracy, the friends and servants of God, still the 
phrase " 1 have begotten thee/' as even De Wette con- 
fesses, nowhere indicates merely adoptive sonship when 
God himself employs it. Besides, in Ps. xliv. (xlv.) 7 and 
cix. (ex.) 5 the same person is called Lord and God, and 
in the last but one verse of Ps. ii. he is named " Son." 
Consequently, we must again infer that the anointed king's 
sonship surpasses a merely adoptive one. Finally, accord- 
ing to the present Hebrew text, we must read : " Kiss the 
son, lest he become angry . . . ," so that our trust must be 
placed in the son. But we can trust in Jehovah alone ac- 
cording to Ps. cxvii. (cxviii.) 9; cxlv. (cxlvi.) 3; Mich, 
vii. 5. 

2. In the Light of the Old Testament.— But lest we 
should seem to explain the prophecy of Ps. ii. entirely in 

" when his wrath shall bo kindled," etc., with what precedes by the 
conjunction "for" or "because;" others prefer to take them ab- 
solutely. The Hebrew word which is rendered in our versions " in 
a short time " is sometimes referred to quantity, thus : " when his 
wrath shall be kindled (even) a little." As to the meaning- of the 
Hebrew word we may compare Prov. x. 20. The primary meaning 
of the expression rendered "trust" seems to be " to get under 
the folds of the garments of a person in power." To extend 
oik's garments to a person is among the Arabs a sign of protection 
and security. Venerable Bede remarks that those trust in God who 
have the consciousness of having deserved the divine favor. 


the light of the New Testament and of Christian Theology, 
we must consider in what light the Messias was re- 
garded even in the Synagogue. We have already seen that 
both Jarchi and Kimchi testify to the traditional Messianic 
interpretation of Ps. ii. ; we might consequently infer a 
priori that the ancient Synagogue must have expected a 
Messias who would be in a special way the Son of God. 
This inference Ave shall see amply confirmed by un- 
suspected testimony. For we shall investigate in the first 
place on what grounds Jarchi and Kimchi have asserted 
the existence of a Jewish tradition for the Messianic char- 
acter of Ps. ii.; in the second place we shall give a few 
testimonies to show what manner of Divine sonship was 
attributed to the Messias by the learned writers of the 
Synagogue; finally will be given the Jewish exegesis of a 
few prophecies that the Synagogue considered as nearly 
related to Psalm ii. 

A. Rabbinic Testimony for the Messianic Character of 
Ps. II. — a. The psalm will be verified in the time of Gog 
and Magog. In Mechilta (fol. 3, 3) we read: "In future 
times, too, Gog and Magog shall fall down before Israel; 
David shall see it and exclaim, ' Why have the Gentiles 
raged ? ' " The Talmud (Abodah zarah, fol. 3, b), treating 
of the Messianic times, has the following: "When the war 
of Gog and Magog begins, they will say to them : ' Against 
whom have you gone forth?' They answer: ' Against the 
Lord and against his Christ/ " Finally, Midrash Esther 
(fol. 107, 4; cf. Tanchuma, fol. 55, 2; Vayikra Rabba, 
sect. 27 fin.) confirms the same statement: "Rabbi Levi 
has said: Gog and Magog too will say in the times of the 
Messias: Those who have done anything against Israel 
before us have acted foolishly, for they (the Israelites) 
have a patron in heaven. We shall not act in the same 
way, but we shall first attack the patron, and afterwards 
the Israelites. The kings of the earth stood up, and the 
princes met together against the Lord and against his 
Christ. Then God will say to them: You wicked men, 


will you attack me ? How many armies, bow many thunder- 
bolts, and how many Seraphim and angels do I not possess ? 
My power shall come forth and strive against you." 
Jewish exegesis has, therefore, identified the war of Gog 
and Magog against Israel with the rebellion described in 
Ps. ii. But the same war will take place in the times of 
the Messias, as is clearly understood from the second and 
third of the above testimonies. Compare also Ezech. 
xxxviii. 2 and xxxix. 

I). Again, the Jewish tradition holds that to the anointed 
king of Ps. ii. all power will be given, and all homage due. 
The Zohar (Deut. fol. 109, col. 43(5) comments on the 
phrase "kiss the son" (rendered in our versions "embrace 
discipline"). " Kiss ye the hands of the son, for God has 
given him power over all, so that all must serve him. For 
he is crowned with justice and mercy. He who deserves 
justice shall come to judgment; whosoever is worthy of 
mercy shall obtain mercy. Whosoever is not willing to 
praise this son, his sins shall be brought forth before the 
holy king, and before the heavenly mother." If we com- 
pare this description of the anointed king with the de- 
scription of the Messias given in the manifestly Messianic 
passages of Isaias (ix. G f. ; xi. 2 f.), we see again that 
Jewish exegesis has identified the anointed king of Ps. ii. 
with the Messias. 

c. But Ave go a step farther; the earliest Jewish com- 
mentaries expressly stated the identity of the Messias with 
the hero of Ps. ii. We read in the Zohar (Gen. fol. 77, 
col. 293): "Beginning at that very time King Messias will 
rise up, and then all Gentiles will be gathered to battle 
agarnst Jerusalem," as David says: " The kings of the earth 
stood up." The same work has the following passage 
(Ex. fol. 24, col. 9G): "The holy and all-blessed' God puts 
on power against the Gentiles, who rise up against him, 
as is written: and the princes met together against the 
Lord and against his Christ, and this shall happen in the 
time of King Messias," Bereshith Rabba (sect. 44, fol. 


42, 4; Mechilta and Seder '01am in Yalkut Simeoni II. 
fol. 27, 4) says: "God lias said to three persons : * Ask of 
me;' to Solomon, to Achaz, and to the Messias." The 
Talmud is not less explicit in the Messianic interpretation 
of Ps. ii. The treatise Succah (fol. 52, 1) says: "Our 
Rabbis teach: the holy God, blessed be he, says to the 
Messias, the son of David: Ask of me." The Midrash 
Tehillim (ad Ps. cxx. 7, fol. 45, 4) gives a commentary 
on Ps. ii. 9: "The holy God, blessed be he, says to the 
Messias: Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron." The 
same Midrash in its commentary on Ps. ii. 7 has the fol- 
lowing passage: "Preaching his commandment — this has 
been preached long ago in the Law, in the Prophets, and 
in the doctrinal books: In the Law, Ex. iv. 22: Israel 
is my son, my first-born; in the Prophets, Is. lii. 13: 
Behold, my servant shall understand; and xlii. 1 refers 
to the same: Behold my servant, I will uphold him; in the 
doctrinal books, Ps. ex. 1, The Lord said to my Lord; and 
Ps. ii. 7: The Lord hath said to me, thou art my son; and 
again Dan. vii. 23; and lo . . . with the clouds of heaven." 
The Jewish teaching concerning the Messianic reference of 
Ps. ii. is therefore certain beyond all doubt. 

B. The Divine Sonship of the Messias as taught in the 
Synagogue. — a. The anointed king is represented as the son 
of a king. Mechilta (Yalkut Simeoni II. fol. 53, 3), when 
commenting on the words "against the Lord and against 
his Christ," has the parable of a robber who stands de- 
fiantly behind a royal castle and holds the following mono- 
logue: "If I seize the king's son, I shall kill him and cru- 
cify him, that he may die a painful death;" but the holy 
Spirit derides him, as is written: "He that dwelleth in 
heaven shall laugh at them." 

b. Again, the Messias is represented as having no father. 
Bereshith Rabba (cf. Raym. Martini, part iii., dist. iii. 8, 
5, et Hier. de S. Fide i. 5) has the following passage: 
"Rabbi Barachias speaks thus: God says to the Israelites: 
You tell me (Lam. v. 3) we are become orphans without a 


father. Neither has the ' Go-el' a father, whom I shall 
raise up unto you; according to Zacharias vi. 12: Behold 
a man, the Orient (Zemach) is his name, and under him 
shall he spring up. And Is. liii. 2 says: and he shall 
grow up as a tender plant before him. Of the same [per- 
son] David says in Ps. cix. (ex.) 3: from the mother of 
the dawn the dew of thy youth has come unto thee [for the 
different translations of this passage see the commentary 
on Ps. cix. (ex.)]; and in Ps. ii. 7: The Lord hath said 
to me: thou art my son." 

c. In the third place, the Messias is declared to be God's 
Son. Midrash Tehillim commenting on the words, " thou 
art my son, this day have I begotten thee," has the fol- 
lowing passage: "When the time of the Messias shall come, 
then the holy God, praised be his name, shall say to him: 
It is my duty to make a new covenant with him. For he 
says, To-day have I begotten thee. Then is his hour, when 
he shall be declared as his son." 

d. Finally, the Messias is openly represented as the Son 
of God. Zohar (Gen. fol. 88, col. 348) plainly expresses 
this: "This is the faithful shepherd. Of thee it is said, 
' kiss the son;' thou art the prince of the Israelites, the 
Lord of the earth, the Lord of the ministering angels, the 
son of the Most High, the son of the holy God, blessed be 
he, and the gracious Shekhinah." Consequently, we may 
safely maintain that the Synagogue understood Ps. ii. not 
only of the Messias, but also of a Messias who would be the 
Son of God. 

e. To give this last assertion a still more solid foundation, 
we shall next consider several passages of ancient Rabbinic 
writers containing the same doctrine, though they are not 
connected with Ps. ii. Some of these passages reveal this 
truth implicitly and obscurely; others state it clearly and 
unmistakably. The former may be reduced to the places 
in which the Messias is called "the Middle Column," "the 
lower Adam," " the plant from below and above;" the latter 


is found in those authors who call the Messias the first- 
born, the Son of God. 

I. Implicit Testimony. — a. The Messias is the Middle 
Column.— Tikkune Zohar (c. 24, fol. 68, 2) tells us: "It is 
said of the Middle Column: Israel is my son, my first-born" 
(Ex. iv. 22).- Here it suffices to recall what is written 
concerning the Middle Column in the Zohar (Numb. fol. 
91, col. 3G4): "The Middle Column is the Metatron who, 
being beauty and comeliness, establishes peace with God in 
the highest: his name is like the name of his Lord, being 
made after his image and likeness; he comprises within 
himself all qualities from above downward, and from below 
upward (i.e., the divine and the human nature), and he 
unites everything in the middle." We must only add that 
Metatron is the name of the great Presence-angel, who 
guarded Israel in the Old Testament, and who is identical 
with the Messias (cf. I. Myer, Qabbalah, pp. 3G5 f.). 

I?. The Messias is the Terrestrial Adam. — Prov. xxx. 4 
reads: "Who hath ascended up into heaven, and de- 
scendeth ? who hath held the wind in his hands ? who hath 
bound up the waters together as in a garment ? who hath 
raised up all the borders of the earth ? what is his name, 
and what is the name of his son, if thou knowest ? " Re- 
ferring to this verse the Zohar (Gen. fol. 39, col. 154; Tik- 
kune Zohar c. G9, fol. 108, 2) says: "What is his name? 
The upper or celestial Adam. What is the name of his 
son ? The lower or terrestrial Adam/' Again in Zohar 
(Dent. fol. 119, col. 473) we read: "The words 'what is the 
name of his son?' refer to the faithful shepherd, i.e., to 
the Messias." Consequently, the Messias, the terrestrial 
Adam, is the son of the celestial Adam. It follows from 
these passages, at least, that the Messias was expected to 
have a celestial origin. 

c. The Messias is the Plant from Below and Above. — 
Bereshith Rabba (sect. 90, fol. 91, 3, part iii. dist. i. 10, 
12), interpreting Cant. viii. 12, " my vineyard is before me," 
says: "This is King Messias, as Ps. lxxx. 1G has it: And 


perfect the same which thy right hand hath planted. 
There is a twofold plantation (a celestial and a terrestrial). 
The lower one is Abraham, hut the joint upper and lower 
one is the Messias, according to Mich. ii. 13: 'lie shall go 
up that shall open tne way before them." Here too the 
twofold nature of the Messias is obscurely indicated. 

II. Explicit Testimony. — a. The Messias is the First- 
Bom. — Turning now to clearer passages, we may in the 
first place return to Ex. iv. 22: "Israel, my first-born" 
are words applied to the Messias, not only by Jewish writers, 
but also by St. Matthew. We read in Myer (Qabbalah, 
pp. 2G1 f.) : " From its union with Kether,out of which it is 
emanated, and to which it returns, proceeds Chokhmah, i.e., 
Wisdom, the Word or Son, the Logos, called the First- 
born . . " And again (ibid.): "It (Wisdom) is also 
called by the Qabbalah ' the only begotten Son/ 'the First- 
born of Elohim/ etc." 

What is important here is the identity of Chokhimih 
or Wisdom (Logos, Word) with the Messias, as St. John 
has established it. Again, Tikkune Zohar (c. 14, pr.) 
has the following passage: "Come and see. Of Wisdom it 
is written, Ex. xiii. 2: Sanctify unto me every first-born. 
For every first-born is called after her (Wisdom's) name. 
Hence the Shekhinah too is named the First-born. Of 
AVisdom it is clearly said in Ezech. xliv. 30: The first- 
fruits (literally, the beginning) of all the first-born. His 
first-born son is the first of all, and the Middle Column." 
Now we have already seen that the Messias was called both 
" Middle Column " and " Shekhinah." Consequently " the 
first-born " was one of the Messianic titles. 

b. The Messias is the Son of God. — Shemoth Rabba 
(sect. c. 35, fol. 133,2) reads: " AVe find that in future 
times all nations, but Egypt first of all, shall offer gifts to 
King Messias. And lest anyone should think that God 
would not accept the gift from them, the holy God, blessed 
be he, says to the Messias: Accept them from them. 
From that time gifts have been offered to my son in Egypt, 


as is written, Ps. Ixvii. (lxviii.) 32: Ambassadors shall come 
out of Egypt." The Talmud repeats this passage, sub- 
stituting "to my sons" instead of "to my son," so as not 
to favor the Christian teaching that the Messias is "the Son 
of God. What has been said establishes the traditional 
teaching of the Synagogue concerning the divine sonship 
of the Messias beyond all reasonable doubt; for a still 
fuller statement of the same see the section on the Divinity 
of the Messias. 




1. Mythical Explanation.— The Mosaic history of our 
first parents' fall cannot be regarded as a mere myth, 
concerning the condition of primitive man, similar to the 
myths existing in other nations. This view, whether it 
represents the Mosaic account as a mere philosophic 
theory concerning the origin of evil (Rosenmi'iller), or as 
the figurative expression of sensual allurement (Peuss, etc.), 
is in either case equally untenable. Not as if we denied 
the similarity between the heathen myths and the Hebrew 
account concerning the primeval condition of mankind; 
but we maintain that this very similarity is more satis- 
factorily explained if the historic character of Moses' story 
be admitted than if it be denied. For if all is mere myth, 
why have all the nations of antiquity developed mytholo- 
gies which are identical rather than similar ? And if it be 
said that the critical analysis of the Pentateuch suggests 
the mythical character of tin; Mosaic story, avc point to the 
fact that this is incompatible with the Mosaic origin of the 

2. Symbolical Explanation.— Still, this latter argument 
does not weaken the theory proposed by Philo, though it 
destroys Reuss' position on the present question. Philo 
(cf. De mundi opificio, p. 2G, c., ed. Francofordiae, M.DC 
XXIX.) believes that the serpent mentioned in the third 
chapter of Genesis is a symbol of sensual pleasure. The 
state of paradise applies only to the time when Adam was 


alone on earth ; having given way to their desire of off- 
spring, Adam and Eve had naturally to bear all the conse- 
quences: Eve had to suffer the pangs of childbirth, Adam 
was subjected to the annoying cares of his household. 
Both were thus condemned to a severe punishment for 
yielding to their wanton desire. The serpent is said to be 
doomed to eat the dust of the earth, because man's pleasure 
is of a low kind, connected with the world of sense and 
matter. According to this view, there are only five 
historical facts contained in the first chapters of Genesis: 
1. The existence of God; 2. God's unity; 3. God's creation 
of the world; 4. the unity of this world; 5. God's ruling- 
providence over this world. Everything besides these five 
points is myth and symbol, serving merely as the outward 
garb of the hidden truth. 

3. Allegorical Explanation.— The view of Cajetan 
regarding the third chapter of Genesis bears some re- 
semblance to the theory of Philo, though it differs widely 
enough from its Jewish prototype to avoid all theological 
censure. What is called the serpent in Genesis, is, accord- 
ing to Card. Cajetan, nothing but the devil tempting Eve 
inwardly; what is described as a dialogue between the ser- 
pent and Eve is a mere series of suggestions which the 
devil made in Eve's heart. The temptation therefore and 
the fall really occurred, but the manner in which they are 
told is a mere allegory. A number of Protestant authors, 
who reject Reuss' theory according to which Gen. iii. is a 
mythical representation of the origin of sin in general, 
still adhere to a modified form of Cajetan's view. Gen. iii. 
is a myth indeed, or an allegory, which does 7iot concern 
the origin of sin in general, but our first parents' sin in 
particular. Some of these writers admit the presence and 
the agency of the devil in Eve's temptations, others speak 
only of the allurement of sensual pleasure. Abarbanel's 
explanation, which admits the presence of a real serpent, 
but denies the agency of the devil, whose conversation is 
supplied by the thoughts arising in Eve's mind when she 


saw the serpent eating of the forbidden fruit, has found so 
little favor that it is practically extinct. It will appear in 
the commentary that the mythical and allegorical explana- 
tions of the passage are incompatible with the context and 
the universal national traditions concerning the history of 
our first parents. 

4. Messianic Character of the Passage.— This is 
proved by way of corollary at the end of this chapter. 

Gen. hi. 1-19. 
1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of 

1 For the sake of clearness we shall first consider the temptation of 
our first parents ; secondly, their sin ; and finally, the consequences of 
their sin. In the first part we must again treat separately of the 
tempter and of the persons tempted. 

1. The Temptation and Sin. — a. The Tempter. — To do justice to 
this part, we must inquire into the external appearance of the tempter, 
his personality, and the way and manner of the temptation. 

A. The External Appearance of the Tempter. — There is no ade- 
quate reason for abandoning the literal meaning of Genesis regarding 
the external appearance of the tempter. The whole section neces- 
sarily implies a supernatural dealing of God with man, so that no 
figurative meaning can explain away the miraculous. Besides, the 
literal meaning once disregarded, we have no sufficient guide in 
selecting the figurative. 

The word nachash used in the Hebrew text seems to be cognate to 
a verb meaning "to view," "to observe attentively," "to divine;" the 
corresponding noun signifies in one form "brass," "fetters;" in an- 
other "divination," "augury;" and in the form found in the present 
passage it denotes "a serpent" (cf. Ex. iv. 3; vii. 15; Numb. 
xxi. 6, 7, 9 ; Dent. viii. 15, etc.). The Fathers agree on this, as may 
be seen in Heinke, A. T. t. ii. 269. 

The fanciful meaning "ape," given to "nachash" in Clarke's 
commentary, is both unsatisfactory and groundless. Even if we 
adopt the common meaning " serpent," our question remains a diffi- 
cult one. More than forty species of serpents are enumerated by 
systematic nomenclators and travellers as occurring in northern 
Africa, Arabia, and Syria. A definite answer cannot be given to the 
question, What kind of serpent is intended in the sacred text? 
FiUgubinus believes that a basilisk is meant ; Pererius speaks of the 
scytalis, noted for its variegated and beautiful colors; Delrio con- 
nects the present passage with St. Luke iii., and interprets "nac- 
hash " as viper. 

The statement of Genesis, "the serpent was more subtle than any 
of the beasts of the earth," no more determines a definite species of 
serpent than it, proves Clarke's interpretation, which we have stated 
above. Whether this superior cunning of the serpent be real or only 


the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the 

analogical, it is well known in Scriptural language. Ps. Ivii. (Iviii.) 
5 says : "their madness is according to the likeness of a serpent: 
like the deaf asp that stoppeth her ears " in order not to hear the 
sound of the enchanter. Gen. xlix. 17 knows of " a serpent in the 
path, that hiteth the horse's heel that the rider may fall hack ward." 
Jesus himself warns his apostles to he " wise as serpents " (Matthew 
x. 16). This opinion regarding the serpent's cunning probably has 
its foundation in the noiseless, sneaking manner in which it ensnares 
its prey, and in the powerful instinct of self-preservation through 
which it avoids any fatal blow on its head, its principal seat of life. 

We find the snake graphically represented in ancient inscriptions, 
and especially on Babylonian and Assyrian cylinders. It is certain 
beyond doubt that such representations were religious symbols ; but 
their precise signification still remains a mystery. On one repre- 
sentation in particular (G. Smith, Chald. Gen. p. 85, f. 301, 305 ; 
Del. PI). 90) we see a man and a woman sitting on two chairs on 
either side of a date-tree, both stretching out their hands towards the 
fruit ; behind the woman's chair a serpent is coiled up, the head of 
which is reared up above the woman's head. Though we cannot 
assert that the history of our first parents' temptation and sin has 
been pictured on this cylinder, still we may draw the reader's atten- 
tion to the close resemblance between this representation and the 
story of Genesis (cf. Schrader, K. A. T. 37 f.). In the light of Gen. 
iii. 1-15, taken in its literal sense, we can readily understand why 
the serpent figures in the history, the creeds, and the legends of 
nearly all ancient nations, while the mythical or allegorical explana- 
tion of the same passage leaves the agreement of mythology a mys- 
tery. The nations of the North told of Jormund's Gander, or Kater, 
the serpent of the deep. In Hindu lore there exist innumerable 
fables of Nagas and Naga-kings. The serpent entwined around a 
staff was, among the Romans, the symbol of health and the distinc- 
tive mark of the God iEsculapius. We might perhaps compare the 
brazen serpent raised up in the wilderness (Numb. xxi. 4-i)) with the 
above symbol of .Esculapius and Hygeia, did we not know that the 
serpent's longevity was proverbial, so much so that the representa- 
tion of the common house-snake, biting its tail, was typical of eter- 
nity. This is not the place to say much of the old dragon-temples, 
which are found from the highest parts of Asia and Colchis to the 
north of Great Britain and to the middle States of our own continent; 
the structures have avenues of upright stones, several miles in length, 
and are connected with circles representing the mundane egg. In 
Egypt the serpent-worship had struck such deep root that even a 
Christian sect of Ophitae, or Ophiani, arose as late as the second cen- 
tury of our era. Compare Tertullian, de praescrip. c. 47 ; Epiphan. 
lucres. 37. Without insisting on the absolute certainty of a connec- 
tion existing between all these religious rites offered to the serpent 
tribe and the serpent's influence on the early destiny of mankind as 
told in Genesis, we only draw attention to the natural and easy ex- 
planation of the universal religious awe and reverence paid to this 
particular species of the animal kingdom, if we admit the story of 
Genesis in its literal meaning. 



2 woman: 3 "Why hath God commanded yon, that yon should not 

B. The Person of the Tempter. — In the second place, a few words 
must be said about the personality of the tempter in paradise. Both 
sacred Scripture and tradition agree in assigning the devil as the 
tempter of Eve. In Matthew xii. 29 ; John viii. 44 ; Acts x. 38, 
Satan is in general terms represented as the enemy of man ; in John 
xii. 81 ; II. Cor. x. 4; Eph. vi. 12; II. Thess. ii. 9; Apoc. xii. 9; 
xx. 2, Satan is the enemy of God and of his Christ, the prince of the 
reign of darkness, which he endeavors to establish by means of his 
own secret actions, by the instrumentality of his ministers, i.e., bad 
Christians, and of Antichrist ; finally, in Apoc. xii. 9, it is expressly 
stated : "and that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who 
is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world." In 
the light of this fact we understand wdiy Jesus, the second Adam, 
was tempted by the devil in the beginning of his career as our Ke- 
deenier ; as our fall had begun with the devil's victory over the first 
Adam, so our redemption must begin with the devil's defeat by the 
second Adam. 

But even the Old Testament identified the tempter in paradise with 
Satan. In Ecclus. xxv. 33 we read: "From the woman came the 
beginning of sin, and through her we all die. . . ." We notice that 
here "the beginning of sin" and "we all die" are parallel terms ; 
consequently, we all die by reason of sin, brought into the world by 
the tempter in paradise. " But by the envy of the devil death came 
into the world " (Wisd. ii. 24). Hence the tempter in paradise and 
the devil must be identified. The causal nexus between sin and 
death, which in Ecclus. xxv. 33 is inferred from the parallelism of 
terms, is clearly stated by St. Paul (Horn. v. 12): "As by one man 
sin entered into the world, and by sin death. ..." 

For the existence of Christian tradition in favor of the identity of 
the tempter with Satan, w r e must refer to Clement of Alexandria 
(Cohort, ad gent. i. 6) ; Origen (de princip. iii. 2) ; Iren. (Hser. iv. 
10); Tertull. (de spectac. 18); Athan. (ad episc. Egypt., p. 108); 
Epiphan. (Haer. i. 40) ; Chrysost. (Horn. 10 in Gen. ii.) ; Theodoret 
(Quaest. 35) ; August, (de Gen. ad lit. 11) ; Damasc. (de fide orthod. 
ii. 10). 

We may even point to legendary traditions existing among the Per- 
sians and Indians, in which the serpent is identified with or repre- 
sented as the tool of the devil. The Vedas" describe the war of 
nature as waged in the storm by the god Indra, armed with light- 
ning and thunder, against a serpent Ahi, who has carried off the 
dawns or the rivers, described as goddesses or as milch cows, and 
who keeps them captive in the folds of the clouds. In the A vesta 
this war is a struggle for the possession of the light of hvareno, be- 
tween Atar, described as either the weapon or the son of Ahura, and 
Azi Dahfika, "the fiendish snake," a three headed dragon, who 
strives to seize and put out the hvareno. Compare Yt. xix. 47-52; 
Sacred Books of the East, vol. iv. pp. Ixii. f. In order to understand 
the connection of this struggle with the history of primitive man, we 
must keep in mind that, in the Veda, Yam a, the son of Yivasvat, is 
the first man. The corresponding figure in tin* A vesta is Yima, the 
son of Vivanghat, though the characteristic of being the first man 


eat of every tree of paradise ? " And the woman answered him, 

has been transferred to Gay 6 Maratan. But Gayo Maratan, Yima, 
the bird Karsiptan are, under different names, forms, and functions, 
identical with Zarathustra, i e., the god-like champion in the struggle 
for light Now Yima possesses the hvareno, i.e., the light of sover- 
eignty, the glory from above which makes the king an earthly god. 
Sovereignty and servitude are united with its possession and its loss 
respectively When Yima " began to find delight in words of false- 
hood and untruth, the Glory (hvareno) was seen to flee away from 
him " (Yt xix 32) and Azl Dahaka reigned. (Sacred Books of the 
East, iv pp lxiii., lxxv., lxxviii , cf. Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar 
Leipz 1887, p 99). 

Begarding the exception of some authors that the Hebrews had no 
knowledge of a personal Satan before the time of the Babylonian 
captivity, we may refer to the various explanations found in Corluy 
(Spicileg Dogm., vol i. p. 350) Supposing that the above; assertion 
be true, it does not follow that God could not afterwards reveal the 
true nature of the tempter, as he has actually done The inspired 
writer of Gen iii 1-15 may have written his story as he had seen it 
in vision, or as the popular version of tradition delivered it unto him, 
or as the painter and the sculptor were wont to represent it, without 
the explicit thought that the real tempter was a hidden agent. Be- 
sides, it is false that the Hebrews knew of no personal Satan before the 
Babylonian captivity In Dent xxxii. 17 we are told "They sacri- 
ficed to devils, and not to God, to gods whom they knew not." In 
Lev. xvi. 8 we read according to the Hebrew text : " and casting lots 
upon them both, one lot unto the Lord, and one lot unto AzazCl." 
Now, according to the more probable interpretation of the word, 
AzazCl signifies Satan (Spencer, leg. rit., 1. iii. diss. viii. c. 1, 2 ; 
Gesenius, Lexic Hebraic; Bosenmi'iller ; Winer, Lexic; Origen, 
Corluy, Crelier, etc.) ; not as if one goat had been sacrificed to the 
Lord, and the other to Satan, but the sending forth of the scape-goat 
was a symbolical action, signifying that the kingdom of Satan was 
renounced, and that the sins to which he had tempted individuals or 
the nation were sent back to him. Later on, Satan again appears in 
the book of Job i., ii. and in I. Par. xxi. 1 ; Zach. iii. 1 repre- 
sents him as an enemy of God and founder of a kingdom of evil. 
The suggestion that in the book of Job a good angel may be spoken 
of (Herder, Eichhorn, Ilgen, Jahn, Baumgarten-Crusius) is hardly 
worth noticing ; if the Hebrews knew at that time of the existence 
of good angels, why should the existence of bad angels be concealed 
from them ? In the same manner we may argue from (Jen. xvi. 7; 
xix. 1 ; Ex. xxxii. 34, Numb. xxii. 22, where a knowledge of the 
existence of good angels is either asserted or implied. Finally, to 
carry the war into the enemies' camp, the Hebrews could not have 
obtained their idea of Satan in the Babylonian captivity. For accord- 
ing to Sacred Scripture the evil one is under the absolute power of 
(iod, and can do no harm to any creature except by God's permission. 
But Ahriman, the Persian principle of evil, has an absolute existence, 
lives in constant, open war with Ormu/d, the good principle, inflicts 
repeatedly serious injuries on him, and will be overcome only at the 
end of time. 



saying: "Of the fruit of the trees that 4 are in paradise Ave do 

C. The Manner of the Temptation. — After determining the person- 
ality of the tempter and his outward appearance, we must finally 
inquire into the manner in which the temptation was carried out. 
There are a number of authors who maintain that what Eve saw 
when she was tempted was no real serpent, hut only the appearance 
of a serpent, assumed for the time by the devil (Cyril, 1. iii. c. 
Julian; Eugubin., in Cosmopoeia). The majority of commentators 
who adhere to the literal meaning of Gen. iii. 1-15 at all admit the 
presence of a real serpent, of which Satan had taken possession (cf. 

But why did the devil employ such a low and ignoble instrument 
for his purpose? The appearance of a man or the semblance of fire 
or of a cloud would have suited his purpose much better. Crelier 
sees in this fact a special disposition of God's goodness, who wishing 
to try man's obedience, did it in such a manner as to make man nat- 
urally despise and shrink from the tempter. Compare Augustine, 
Gen "ad lit xi 29; St Thorn. Summa Theol. II s ii ae q 165, a. 2, 
ad 4. 

Others, however, believe that before the fall man admired and loved 
the serpent more than any other animal. Bauer (Theol. A. T. p. 180) 
believes that even the Seraphim were a kind of basilisk-headed 
Cherubim, or that they were animal forms with serpents' heads, such 
as we find in the temples of ancient Thebes (Gesen Comment, in Is.) 
Hitzig and others identify the Seraphim with the Egyptian Serapis, 
whose worship was a modification of the more ancient worship of 
Kneph ; the latter was represented under the form of a serpent, the 
head of which afterwards formed the crest of Serapis. All this 
seems to be based on the fact that a species of serpent was called 
Saraph, which is the singular number of the word Seraphim. The 
primeval excellence of the serpent is much better accounted for by 
Loch and Reischl. As Lucifer had been one of the most exalted 
angels before his fall, so he made use, in tempting Eve, of the most 
beautiful and exalted animal ; after God's curse the serpent became 
the basest and most dreaded of the animal world, as the devil him- 
self had through his pride become the outcast of the spirit world. 
The above authors ascribe the same opinion to St. Ambrose. 

Another question usually asked in connection with this subject 
concerns the speech attributed to the serpent. 1. Julian the Apostate 
asks sneeringly in what language tin; serpent had spoken ; Clarke 
infers from this incident that the animal cannot have been a serpent, 
but must have been an ape, as if an ape could speak without the 
miraculous influence of God's power. 2. Josephus (Antiqu., 1. i. c. 1), 
Basil (Horn de paradiso), Ephrem (Barcepha de parad. c. 17), and 
others hold that before the fall all animals had the faculty of speech. 
'A Mariana follows the opinion of St Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 
i.) and St. Augustine (II de doctrin Christ ) that all animals have a 
kind of language by means of which they communicate their feelings 
and impressions to one another, and that our first parents before the 
fall understood this animal language. 4. Menochius, Gordon, and 
others maintain that the devil produced the words in the serpent's 
mouth by moving its tongue in the required manner ; but this was no 


eat ; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise 

vital act of the serpent, since it proceeded from no really intrinsic 
principle (Chrysost., Procop., August 1. xiv Civ. 11). 5. Others con- 
tend that the devil produced the vocal sounds in the ears of Eve in 
such a manner that Eve referred them to the serpent's mouth. We 
hardly need to state Cajetan's opinion, who reduces the serpent's Ian 
guage to an interior suggestion, but eliminates also the real serpent. 
Abarbanel's view and that of his Rabbinic followers, according to 
which the real serpent is admitted but the devil is eliminated, and 
the temptation reduced to mere bad example, does not deserve any 
more attention. The explanations given under 4 and 5 sufficiently 
account for the serpent's speech. 

8 b. The Persons tempted.— Having thus far explained what refers 
to the tempter in the story of man's fall, his external appearance", 
his personality, and the means he employed, we must now proceed 
to consider the person tempted. Adam's superior intelligence and 
the wealth of his infused knowledge rendered his deception by the 
devil very difficult. But the love lie had for his divinely appointed 
companion well-nigh equalled the greatness of his knowledge. The 
devil, having been permitted to try Adam's obedience, used even then 
his peculiar tactics of assaulting his victims from their weakest side. 
Unable to lead Adam into sin by deceiving his judgment, free from 
passion as he was, he brought about his fall by making use of 
Adam's pure love for Eve. Had Eve once tasted the forbidden fruit, 
holding as she did in Adam's heart a place second to (iod alone, 
Adam must be strong indeed to resist her powerful pleading. Hence 
it is that we read in the sacred text : " And he [the serpent] said to 
the woman." 

But why did not her very wonder at the serpent's miraculous 
speech put Eve on her guard ? Various answers have been given 
by different commentators : 1. The two opinions that before the fall 
all animals had the power of speech, and that before the fall man 
understood the animal language, which even now exists, have been 
stated in the preceding paragraph. Either would explain the ab- 
sence of Eve's surprise, if one should adopt it. 2. Procopius, Cyril 
(1. Hi. c. Jul.), Abulensis, Pererius, Estius, and others maintain 
that Eve had not yet learned the restriction of the faculty of speech 
to man. Her infused knowledge was, according to these authors, 
much more limited than that given to Adam. 3. A Lapide, St. 
Thomas (p. i. q. 94, a. 4), Bonaventure, and others believe that Eve 
was aware of the miraculous character of the serpent's speech, but 
she attributed it to a spirit, without reflecting whether it was a good 
or a bad spirit. Being as yet in the state of her original justice, she 
had nothing to fear in either case. 4. The Master of Sentences 
(1. ii. dist. xvii. 2) is of opinion that Eve believed in God's immediate 
influence in the serpent's speech. The second and third opinions 
appear to be the more probable ones, and if we must choose either of 
the two, we prefer the second to the third. 

Having thus far investigated why Eve rather than Adam was 
tempted by the serpent, and why she did not shrink back in horror 
at the first approach of her uncanny interlocutor, we must in the 
next place watch step by step the tempter's progress. From the 


God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we 
should not touch it, lest perhaps we die." a And the serpent said 

Hebrew text it appears that the sacred writer has not left us the 
whole dialogue between Eve and the serpent The inspired narrative 
opens where the conversation begins to reach the crisis. 

3 The Hebrew conjunction with which the serpent's question is 
introduced is found nowhere else at the beginning of a conversation 
or a paragraph. We may render it as expressive of doubtful sur- 
prise; "Is it true that God hath commanded you . . ?" By this 
insidious query, which was apt to excite, according to the disposition 
of the listener, either indignation at God's hardness or doubt con- 
cerning the real meaning of God's command, the devil sounded Eve's 
heart to its innermost recesses. 

4 The woman's answer in its first part is the best that could be de- 
sired ; but the last phrases, " that we should not touch it" and " lest 
perhaps we die," have justly provoked criticism. As Crelier observes, 
Eve exaggerates the precept and minimizes the punishment. God 
had forbidden only the eating of the fruit, but Eve adds "that we 
should not touch it." God had said: "In what day soever thou 
shalt eat of it,* thou shalt die the death " (Gen. ii. 17) , Eve merely 
answers: " lest perhaps we die." It must, however, be stated that 
while many interpreters with St. Ambrose (de parad. 1. xii.) and 
liupertus (1. iii. c. 5) ascribe this exaggeration to an odium of God's 
command on the part of the woman, others (a Lap., Malvend., etc.) 
attribute the same to Eve's conscientiousness. Again the " perhaps " 
of the last phrase is not explicitly expressed in the Hebrew text, 
though even in it the rigor of the threatened punishment is consider 
ably modified. St. Bernard (Serm. xxii. n. 3 de divers.) has well 
understood this. "God affirms," he says ; "the woman doubts ; the 
devil denies." 

5 Though we cannot fully understand the woman's disposition of 
heart from her answer, the serpent, no doubt, understood it ; her 
tone of voice and external bearing determining for him what the 
dead letter leaves ambiguous for us. The devil continues to attack 
what he had found to be Eve's w r eakest point. 1. " You shall not 
die the death." 2. "God doth know that in what day soever you 
shall eat thereof your eyes shall be opened." 3. "You shall be as 
gods." 4. "You shall know good and evil." The devil first em- 
phatically denies that any evil is connected with the eating of the 
forbidden fruit, thus removing the fear of punishment. Then he 
promises precisely those goods which the woman most desired, hav- 
ing them most admired in God himself : speculative knowledge 
("your eyes shall be opened"), and practical knowledge ("knowing 
good and evil"), but both independently of God ("you shall be as 
gods"). The connecting words " for God doth know " are explained 
by some as a proof that the command regarding the fruit was not 
meant seriously or contained a mystery not yet understood by our 
first parents (August., 1. ii. de Gen. ad lit. c. 30; a Lap.), by others 
as an insinuation that God had given the command through envy and 
jealousy (Mariana, Cahuet, Crelier, etc.). Either motive was suf 
ficient to remove the second barrier that stood between the forbidden 
fruit and Eve, i.e., her love for God ; how the fear of punishment 


to the woman: " No, you shall not die the death. For God doth 
know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes 
shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and 
And ° the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair 

had been overcome has been stated above. We may notice in passing 
the fanciful interpretation which Abulensis (c. xiii. q. 492) gives of 
the clause " your eyes shall be opened." Both Adam and Eve were 
blind before the fall according to him, and only after their sin they 
began to see that they were naked, The phrase " as gods " is 
rendered "as angels" by several interpreters and Rabbinic writers, 
while the Chaldee version reads "as princes ;" but the context and 
the majority of commentators favor the rendering " as gods," or 
" like unto God." 

6 Thus far all obstacles to the eating of the forbidden fruit had 
been remove!, and a most powerful incentive for partaking of the 
same had been suggested. Now "the woman saw that the tree was 
good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold," or as the 
Hebrew text has the last clause, "a desirable [means] to become 
wise;" consequently even her sensuality is now affected. "And 
she took of the fruit . . . and did eat." Home interpreters believe 
that the forbidden fruit was that of the fig tree ; others speak of 
dates, but the more common opinion assigns the apple-tree as that 
on which God's prohibition rested (Estius). This opinion may be 
based on Cant. viii. 5: "Under the apple-tree I raised thee up; 
there thy mother was corrupted," and on the fact that the tree was 
"fair to the eyes." Though the matter of the divine precept was 
light, the precept itself was a grave and weighty one by reason of 
the motive for which it had been given. The fate of the whole 
human race had been by the will of God connected with its ob- 
servance or violation, Adam representing in his obedience or dis- 
obedience all mankind. 

Finally, a word about the temptation of Adam must be added, and 
we shall have brought our consideration of the temptation to a close. 
Instead of the phrase "and [she] gave her husband "the Hebrew 
text reads: "and she gave also her husband with her." Hence 
some writers infer that Adam was present at Eve's conversation with 
the serpent (Fag., Pise, Oleast.) ; but it is more commonly believed 
that Adam was absent when Eve was tempted. The phrase " with 
her" is explained as indicating that Eve ate a second time of the 
forbidden fruit when she tempted Adam (Mariana), or that Adam 
met Eve while she was eating of the fruit (Menochius), or finally 
that Adam ate of the fruit as Eve had done (Malvenda). A Lapide is 
of opinion that Adam was greatly impressed by the fact that Eve 
had eaten of the fruit and had not died. Next, the serpent's prom- 
ises of divine knowledge, god-like wisdom, and independence of 
God produced their impression. Still, Adam was not deceived by all 
this, as Eve had been (see I. Tim. ii. 14). It was Adam's love for 
Eve that brought about his final resolution. The arguments coming 
from her lips have an additional strength ; she must not be offended 
at any cost ; God's command cannot be meant to be such a grave one 


to the eyes, and delightful to behold ; and she took of the fruit 
thereof, and did eat, and 7 gave to her husband, who did eat. 

after all, and God's love is of less importance than that of Eve. 
Compare Mariana, Calmet, Malvenda, a Lapide, Augustine (Civit. 1. 
xiv. 11). 

2. The Twofold Sin. — A. Sin of Eve. — We must now briefly enu- 
merate the various sins which, according to the opinions of commen- 
tators, Adam and Eve committed in eating of the forbidden fruit. 
St. Augustine (Gen. ad. lit. 1. xi. c. 80 ; de lib. arbit. 1. iii. c. 24 ; 
retract. 1. i. c. 14; de Civit. Dei 1. xiv. c. 11 et 13) is of opinion that 
Eve would not have believed the serpent, had not her mind been 
imbued with self-love and presumption. From this we must not 
infer what Rupertus maintains, that Eve had sinned even before the 
temptation by yielding to pride and a desire of the forbidden fruit. 
This sin of thought would then have been the occasion of the temp- 
tation. Tin; same Rupertus, together with Hugo and the Muster of 
Sentences, places Eve's first outward sin in the doubting expression 
"lest perhaps we die." St. Ambrose thinks that Eve committed her 
first sin by adding the clause " and that we should not touch it" to 
God's precept. Chrysostom sees the woman's first sin in her conver- 
sation with the serpent. But none of these opinions appear to be 
probable, since the first sin was an act of the will rather than of the 
intellect. Besides, it seems to be commonly admitted that such an 
error would not amount to a mortal sin ; but venial sin was, accord- 
ing to St. Thomas (I. a ii. a * q. 89, a. 3), not possible in the state of 
primitive innocence. 

Though the whole sin of Eve may be said to be a sin of disobedi- 
ence, because disobedience was its ultimate completion, still by analy- 
sis we may learn the different steps which led to the final rebellion. 
1. The first sinful step was pride, which manifested itself in a desire 
of possessing divine wisdom and knowledge independently of God 
(Ecclus. x. 14; Tob. iv. 14; St. Ambrose 4 in Luc; St. Ignat., epist. 
ad Trallianos ; St. Chrysost. in I. Tim. ii. 14; St. August., 1. xi. de 
Gen. ad lit. c. 5 ; 1. xvi. de civit. c. 13 ; St. Thorn. II. H ii. M q. 163, 2 , 
a Lap., etc.). 2. The second sinful step was indignation at God's 
command by means of which the sinfully desired good was kept from 
man. 3. Another step to ruin was Eve's curiosity. 4. This was fol- 
lowed by a desire of the forbidden food. 5. Then came a formal 
belief of the serpent's words and promises. G. Lastly, the forbidden 
fruit was eaten through an act of formal disobedience. 

1 The question whether Eve in tempting Adam formally knew that 
she had been deceived has been variously answered. Calmet after 
St. Ambrose (1. de parad. c. G) believes that Eve knew her mistake 
before she addressed Adam. But the more common opinion inclines 
to the opposite view. Adam, not Eve, had been constituted the 
moral head of the human race, on whose obedience or disobedience 
the gift of nature's integrity was to depend. Consequently, though 
Eve had lost sanctifying grace, yet before Adam's fall she might still 
possess the other gifts of the state of paradise (freedom from concu- 
piscence, immortality, infused knowledge, etc.). How else could we 
explain that she appeared naked before Adam without sentiments of 


And 8 the eyes of them both were opened ; and when they per- 

shame? Of her loss of sanctifying grace she was not conscious, so 
that her mistake was as yet unknown to her. Some authors speak 
also of a kind of enthusiasm for the forbidden fruit that had taken 
possession of Eve, so that she neglected the pangs of conscience, if 
any should have made themselves felt. 

B. Sin of Adam. — The sin of Adam is represented by Pererius as 
containing eight steps : 1, pride ; 2, a too great desire to please his 
wife ; 3, curiosity ; 4, incredulity, as if God had not meant his com- 
mand seriously ; 5, presumption as to the levity of sin ; G, gluttony ; 
7, disobedience ; 8, vain excuse of his sin. St. Augustine (serm. 19 
de Sanctis) says: "Had not Adam excused himself, he would not 
have been exiled from paradise." But Pererius, as a Lapide has it, 
rightly holds the opposite opinion to be the true one, according to 
which Adam lost the state of his paradisiacal integrity by his disobe- 

The question whether Adam or Eve sinned more grievously is 
answered by St. Thomas (II. R ii. ae q. 103, a. 4) with a distinction : 
If the sin be viewed in itself, Eve's transgression was the more 
grievous one, because she sinned first and induced Adam to follow 
her example ; if the person be considered, Adam's sin was more 
grievous, because he had been constituted the moral head of man- 
kind: he had received his command immediately from God, and ^is 
knowledge and prudence probably by far surpassed those of Eve. 

8 3. Consequences of the Sin. — Having thus far considered the temp- 
tation and sin of our first parents, we must next investigate the conse- 
quences of their sin. They may be divided into three classes : A. 
such as followed immediately ; B. those that manifested themselves 
at the approach of God ; C. those revealed in God's judgment. 

A. Immediate Consequences. — The immediate consequences are 
contained in the verse : a. "and the eyes of them both were opened ; 
b. and when they perceived themselves to be naked ; c. they sewed 
together fig-leaves and made themselves aprons. " In general we 
notice here how clause by clause forms an ironical contrast with the 
serpent's promises : an increase of knowledge they obtained, but in- 
stead of perceiving themselves to be as gods, they perceived them- 
selves to be naked ; their desired increase of wisdom taught them 
how to sew together fig-leaves and make themselves aprons. The 
Toheleth Joseph tells us in its preface that the angel Kaziel brought 
a book full of the greatest mysteries to Adam after his fall, but by the 
advice of the angel Adarniel Adam sealed the book and consulted it 
only concerning the highest mysteries, such as the form of God's 
chariot throne, the foundations and movements of the heavens, the 
diverse languages of the universe, the good and bad angels, astron- 
omy, the times and seasons, the influence of the stars, the manufact- 
ure of talismans, and all profane and sacred worship. Josephus too 
(Antiqu., 1. i. c. 1) believes that through an inherent virtue of the 
forbidden fruit Adam learned several things that had formerly been 
unknown to him, e.g., his own nakedness. 

A Lapide gives the following analysis of the peculiar knowledge 
gained by Adam and P^ve after their fall : 1. They felt the sting of 
concupiscence. St. Augustine (de Gen. xi.) says that their eyes were 


ceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig-leaves and 
made themselves aprons. 
And when 9 they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in 

opened to lust after each other (Mariana, Sa, Malvend., Henoch., 
etc.)- 2. Hence they became conscious of their nakedness, and were 
rilled with shame and confusion (Gordon, Malvend.). 3. The eyes 
of their mind were opened, so that they understood the good they 
had lost and the evil they had brought on themselves. St. Chrysos- 
tom says (Horn. 16, in Gen.) : "The eyes, not of their bodies, but of 
their minds were opened." St. Augustine too (de Civit. Dei, 1. xiv. 
c. 17) believes that their eyes were opened, so as to know the good 
they had lost and the evil that had befallen them (Mariana, Sa, Mal- 
vend., Menoch., Tirin.). 4. They knew too that the serpent's prem- 
ises had been false, that God's word was true (Menoch., Tirin.). 
How far our first parents' knowledge extended to the particulars of 
their misery, — whether they knew, e.g., that they had lost the posses- 
sion of paradise, the infused virtues of charity and prudence, — we can- 
not determine (cf. a Lap., Tirin.). 

This knowledge was naturally followed by what is told in the 
words of Sacred Scripture: "they sewed together fig-leaves and 
made themselves aprons." Iren. (1. iii. c. 37) is of opinion that Adam 
and Eve chose the fig-leaves for a covering of their nakedness in 
order to do penance by patiently bearing the stings of its thorns. 
Mariana holds that the fig leaf was chosen because, according to the 
opinion of many Rabbinic and most Greek commentators, the fruit of 
the tig-tree had been the forbidden fruit. Malvenda and Menochius 
say that the fig-leaf was chosen by reason of its great size ; some 
Indian fig-trees are said to have leaves as large as a shield (cf. Pliny, 
1. xii. c. v.; Solin. c. 45 ; Theophrast. 1. iv. de plantis). The Hebrew 
word rendered " leaf" has, at times, the wider meaning " foliage " 
(cf. Jer. xvii. 8). Calmet interprets our passage according to this 
wider meaning, and thinks that the apron was a kind of wattled 
work made of green branches. 

9 B. Preliminaries to the Sentence. — Xext we must pass in re- 
view those consequences of our first parents' sin which manifested 
themselves at God's approach, The nature of this divine visitation 
was undoubtedly merciful. The rebellious angels had been cast head- 
long into eternal ruin, but sinful man was to have an opportunity of 
retracing his false step. The question whether in the state of para 
disiacal integrity any sin committed by Adam, not in his character of 
moral head of mankind, or by any descendant of Adam, would have 
been pardoned, has been touched by Gordon, and is answered by the 
dogmatic theologians. Gordon believes the question is insoluble 
with our present amount of natural and revealed truth. Returning, 
therefore, to our case as stated in Genesis, we are first informed con- 
cerning the time and circumstances of God's merciful visit, and then 
God's judicial inquest preliminary to his sentence is narrated. 

a. time and Circumstances. — The time and circumstances are con- 
tained in verse 8:1. At the afternoon air ; 2. when they heard the 
voice of the Lord God walking in paradise ; 3. Adam and his wife 
hid themselves from the face of the Lord (Jod, amidst the trees of 


paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves 

1. General Determination of Time. — The Hebrew text reads : " at 
(or in) the wind of the day " instead of the clause " at the afternoon 
air." The Septuagint has the rendering " in the evening ;" Theodo- 
tion interprets "at the air towards the cool of the day ;" the Chaldee 
version reads "after the rest of the day," i.e., as Calinet explains it, 
after the rest taken in warm climates during the hot mid-day hours. 
Certain Rabbinic writers hold that Adam had fallen at the tenth 
hour, i.e., about 4 P.M., according to our way of reckoning. Though 
some few interpreters believe that the sin happened during the 
course of the morning (cf. Mai vend.), the more common opinion 
places it in the afternoon. The Histor. Scholastica assigns the 
seventh hour, i.e., about 1 p.m.; but Lucas Tudensis (Isidore, in 
Chronicis) says : "Adam was formed at the first hour of the day, led 
into paradise at the third hour, seduced at the sixth hour, and at the 
ninth hour driven out of paradise." Mariana sees here a coincidence 
with the hours of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. 

We may mention in passing that the opinion of commentators con- 
cerning the length of time spent by our first parents in paradise is by 
no means unanimous. Menoch. (ad vers. 23), e.g., believes that they 
must have spent at least a few days in their garden of delight ; Gor- 
don (ad vers. 1) gives an opinion according to which Eve was tempted 
on the seventh day after her creation, and on the thirteenth day of 
the world's existence; according to Barcepha some commentators 
believe that Adam and Eve were 40 days in paradise as Jesus was 
40 days in the desert ; others hold that the paradisiacal state lasted 
30 years, as the hidden life of Jesus lasted 30 years ; others again' 
grant Adam only six or nine hours of happiness before his fall ; 
Usserius is of opinion that our first parents were placed in paradise 
only on the tenth day after the creation of the world (Nov. 1), and 
that they were expelled on the same day. According to Lev. xvi. 29 
and xxii. 29, the same day became in the Jewish dispensation a day 
of penance and expiation (cf. Calmet, in vers. 23). 

Regarding the phrase " at the air of day," we may reasonably sup- 
pose that Moses understood by it the time of day at which usually a 
breeze sprang up in the country where he was writing. Travellers 
and geographers (e.g., Diodorus Siculus, 1. iii. p. 127; Chardin, 
Voyage en Perse, t. iv. p. 18) tell us that in Arabia and Persia this 
happens towards sunset. Consequently, St. Jerome and the Sep- 
tuagint rightly understand the phrase when they refer it to the 
afternoon air. A similar expression is found in Cant. ii. 17 and ir. 
0, in which passages commentators understand it almost unanimously 
as signifying evening. 

2. Close r Determination of Time. — The second and nearer determina- 
tion of the time of Cod's merciful visit is contained in the clause 
" when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise." 
The " voice " is by some authors said to have been thunder or the 
loud crashing of trees (cf. Menoch., a Lap., Gordon) ; others contend 
that it was a slight rustling of leaves, such as one makes by passing 
through a forest, or a mere outward sign of God's presence (Mai 
vend.) ; others again explain it as an articulate sound formed either 
by an angel (Esti ..s, a Lap., Gordon) or by God himself, i.e., by the 


from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. 
And the Lord 10 God called Adam, and said to him: " Where art 

second person of the Holy Trinity, appearing in human form (Mari 
ana, St. August., 1. xi. c. 33, de Gen. ad lit.). Similar apparitions of 
the second person are asserted to have taken place in the times of 
Ahraham, Jacob, Moses, etc. ; they are represented as a kind of trial 
of human nature on the part of God the Son, before he finally took 
upon himself a real human nature in the mystery of the incarnation 
(cf. Tertull. ii. c. Marcion. ; Clement, i. Paedagog. c. vii. ; Iren., 
1. iv. c. xvii. ; Hilar., xii. de Trin. ; Euseb., Hist. Eccl., init. ; Synod. 
Sirmiens. c. xii.). 

3. Aggravating Circumstance. — A third circumstance of God's visit 
of mercy to paradise is contained in the words " Adam and his wile 
hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of 
paradise." Rosenmi'iller represents God's visit as representative of 
the daily tribute of worship which Adam and Eve had been accus- 
tomed to pay to God in the cool of the evening ; after their sin this 
religious exercise was omitted. But this explanation alone does not 
satisfy the literal meaning of the above passage. Some authors be- 
lieve that Adam and Eve hi I themselves in the shrubbery surround- 
ing the forbidden tree ; supposing the latter to be a fig-tree, they 
say such would be the most natural course of action, since cer- 
tain fig-trees are very large, and propagate by bending down their 
branches to the earth, where they cause them to take root and develop 
into separate trees (Mai vend. ; St. August., 1. ii. de Gen. c. Man- 
ich. ; St. Jerome, in Isaiam, 1. ix. c. 29). We notice here one of the 
effects of Adam's sin ; he seems to have even forgotten that God is 
omniscient and omnipresent. Among the reasons enumerated by a 
Lapide why Adam recognized the approach of God, the fust and 
last seem most satisfactory: Adam knew the manner of God's ap- 
proach by previous experience, and, now in particular, the voice of 
his conscience manifested the nearness of the Judge. 

10 b. Judicial Inquest. — The conversation between our first parents 
and God, preliminary to the divine sentence, must next be considered. 
God's question : "Adam, where art thou?" is by several interpreters 
understood to be rather a reprimand or an admonition than a real ques- 
tion (St. Ambrose, de Parad. c. 14; Tertull., cent. Marcion. 1. ii. c. 
25 ; Origen, 1. de recta fide ; St. Basil, in Ps. cxiv.; St. August , 1. xi. 
de Gen. ad lit. c. 34; cf. Philo, 1. ii. Alleg. Legis p. 70). Still in 
the context we find a direct answer given, so that Adam must have 
understood God's words as a question. 

" I was afraid," Adam answers, " because I was naked, and I hid 
myself." Some authors find a want of sincerity in these words. 
Adam, they say, was " ashamed " because he was naked, and so hid 
himself; he was " afraid " of the cause of his shame, his disobedi- 
ence. But Crelier thinks that at this period Adam really felt his 
nakedness and his shame more vividly than he felt his guilt ; he 
was more affected by the consequences of his sin than he was by the 
sin itself. 

(rod's next question inquires directly after the cause of Adam's 
fear ; it even points out the only reason that could have brought it 


thou?" And he said: " I have heard thy voice in paradise, and 
I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. 1 ' And he 
said to him: "And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, 
but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee 
that thou shouldst not eat? 1 ' And Adam said: "The woman 
whom thou gavest me to be my companion gave me of the tree 
and I did eat." And the Lord said to the woman: " Why hast 
thou done this?" And she answered: "The serpent deceived 
me, and I did eat." 
And the Lord God said to the serpent: n " Because thou hast 

about. " Who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou 
hast eaten of the tree whereof 1 commanded thee that thou shouldst 
hot eat?" Estius remarks here that as Adam's sin of thought, his 
desire to be as God, had robbed him of sanctifying grace and of the 
infused virtues, so his sin of action stripped him of his immunity 
from concupiscence, and taught him, by the rebellion of the flesh, that 
he was naked. Adam's answer is considered by some interpreters as 
the completion of the sin through which he lost his paradisiacal state 
of innocence ; to say the least, it is an excuse of his sin instead of 
being an acknowledgment of the same. The woman whom shortly 
before he had been afraid to displease, even at the risk of offending 
God, he now accuses unmercifully before the severe judge ; God 
himself he accuses for having assigned him such a companion. His 
language too is expressive of the base selfishness which inspires his 
way of acting. Eve is merely the woman given him by God as a 
companion ; of love for Eve, or anxiety for her welfare, there is not 
the slightest trace. 

God now proceeds as judge, inquiring into the case before giving 
his verdict. " Why hast thou done this" — i.e., given to Adam of the 
forbidden fruit, so that he did eat ? Instead of answering (iod's ques- 
tion directly, Eve gives an excuse for her own eating of the forbid- 
den fruit. "The serpent deceived me, and I did eat." Crelier well 
remarks here that Eve did not say, "The serpent seduced me," but 
she used the expression " deceived me," as implying less culpability 
on her part. 

11 C. God's Sentence. — In the last place the consequences of our 
first parents'sin, as manifested in God's sentence, must be investigated. 

a. Sentence against the Serpent. — Without inquiring further into 
the serpent's guilt, the Lord at once begins his judicial sentence 

1. Subject of this Sentence. — The punishment is held by some 
Eathers (cf. St. August., 1. xi. de Gen. ad lit. c. 36, et de Gen. 
cont. Manich. 1. ii. c. 26 ; St. Gregor. Great, Bed.) to have fallen on 
the devil alone ; the serpent was not punished, because he had been 
a mere instrument of the devil Other commentators maintain that 
the serpent alone was punished, because the literal meaning of the 
passage regards him alone, and also because the devil is incapable of 
either merit or demerit. 

Not to enter into this latter question discussed by dogmatic theolo- 
gians, we can easily understand why the serpent alone is spoken of 


done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle and beasts of 
the earth ; upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou 

in God's sentence , he alone had externally appeared to Eve, and 
whether God had revealed to Adam and Eve the true nature of the 
tempter must always remain doubtful. Consequently, it seems most 
probable that God's sentence fell on the serpent as he had acted in 
tempting Eve. there the devil had been the primary agent, the ser- 
pent the secondary, hence the punishment fell primarily on the devil, 
secondarily on the serpent (cf. St. Chrysost., horn. 17, in Gen.; Theo- 
dor. , interrog 34 in Gen.). Those who maintain that the serpent 
could not be punished, not being capable of committing a culpable 
action, must consider that all animals have been made for the good 
of man. Consequently, God may use them as instruments by which 
to show his detestation of sin. Instances of this we have in Ex. 
xxi. 29 ; Lev. xx. 15 ; Deut. vii 25, xiii. 15 , Jos. vii. 25. 

2. Punishment contained in the Sentence. — Passing next to the 
punishment inflicted on the serpent, we may consider first that in 
dieted on the serpent independently of man, then that inflicted on the 
serpent in his relation to man. 

a. Absolute Punishment. — The absolute penalty is indicated in the 
words, " thou art cursed among all cattle and beasts of the earth , 
upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days 
of thy life." Sa renders the first clause "cursed above all cattle 
and beasts of the earth," others explain it "cursed by all cattle and 
beasts of the earth." But the true meaning is that the serpent is 
taken from among all animals which are not cursed, and is cursed by 
God himself. The great abhorrence in which the serpent is held by 
all nations is a consequence of this curse, though this is expressed 
more clearly in a later clause. The phrase "upon thy breast shalt 
thou go" has induced Joseph us, Sts. Ephrem and Chrysostom, Ileng 
stenberg, Delitzsch, Keil, etc., to suppose that the serpent has suf- 
fered an organic change by reason of this divine curse (cf. Keinke, Bei 
triige, t. ii. pp. 385-414). But serpents found in the tertiary strata 
show the same organization that is found in the serpents of to-day. 
Hence, l.angeand others have had recourse to a real, physical degrada- 
tion of the serpent by reason of God's curse; the general organism re- 
maining, however, unchanged. But such a supposition is not needed 
to save the truth of God's word. The locomotion and food of the 
serpent were most probably the same before the curse that they are 
now. But what formerly had been the mere result of nature became 
through the curse a kind of punishment, in so far as it was changed 
into a lasting symbol of the effects of sin. 

As to the devil, Gordon and others are of opinion that no new 
punishment was given him through God's curse, but that his former 
punishment implied only a new relation to the temptation of our 
first parents. St. Augustine says that the devil goes on his breast 
and belly by tempting man to pride and luxury, represented respect- 
ively by breast and belly. St. Gregory (1. xxi. Moral, c. 2) explains 
the same expressions as denoting the devil's temptation to desires 
and acts of impurity, which are symbolized by the breast and belly. 
The phrase "earth shalt thou eat" denotes according to many writers 


eat all the (lays of thy life. I will put " enmities between thee 

that the devil's usual prey will consist of the very outcasts of man- 
kind (cf. August., 1. ii. de Gen. c. Manich., c. 17; Bed., Rupert., 
Hugo, Cajetan). The permanent character of the punishment is in- 
dicated by the clause " all the days of thy life." 

18 b. Relative Punishment. — The second part of the serpent's pun- 
ishment consists in his changed relation to man. 

a. Enmity between the Woman and the Serpent. — He had contracted, 
or feigned at least, a friendship with Eve; God declares that he will 
put enmities between the serpent and the woman. God does not name 
Adam as having enmities with the serpent, because Adam had not 
directly been tempted by the serpent; God wished also to obliterate 
any odium the woman might have incurred in the sight of Adam. The 
devil was affected by this punishment too, because it signified the be- 
ginning of a successful struggle of man against him. It was, of course, 
owing to God's special providence that the serpent was present when 
God pronounced the verdict. The word "woman" has the definite 
article in the Hebrew text, to signify that the same woman is meant 
who had been spoken of from the very beginning of the chapter. 
The word serpent, in the introduction to God's sentence, has the defi- 
nite article for the same reason. The nature of the enmity is known 
from the nature of the preceding friendship; hence it will give man 
the power to avoid sin. 

Though " the woman " refers, in its literal sense, to Eve, it denotes 
the Blessed Virgin at least typically. For not to mention the fact 
that the Fathers of the Church are unanimous in considering Eve as 
a type of Mary, there is a special reason for regarding her as such in 
the present passage. Catholic doctrine understands the passage as 
referring co our Blessed Lady; since we have denied the existence of 
such a literal reference, we are bound to uphold, at least, a typical 
one. It may be of interest to know that many authorities understand 
the prophecy in its literal meaning of the Blessed Virgin; among 
these are: Iren. (Haer. iii. 23), Epiphanius (Ha?r. iii. 78; xviii. 19), 
Proclus (Orat. in Nat. Dni. 19), Ps. Jerome (Ep. de viro perfecto 6), 
Fulbertus (serm. iv. in Xativ. B.V.), Bernard (Horn. 2 super Mis- 
sus 4), Isidore of Pel us (Ep. i. 426), Smits, Passaglia, Patrizi, Bade, 

ft. Enmity between the Woman's and the Serpent's Seed.— -The fol- 
lowing phrase, between "thy seed and her seed," is in itself very 
clear. Seed signifies, by synecdoche, the offspring of plants and ani- 
mals. Thus employed, it generally applies to the whole collection; 
but sometimes it designates an individual (cf. Gen. iv. 25-, xv. 3; 
xxi. 13; I. Kings i. 11; II. Kings vii. 12; I. Par. xvii. 11). Patrizi 
is of opinion that in the present clause the seed of the woman applies 
to an individual, on account of the singular number of the following 
personal pronoun— rendered " she " in our versions, but which, as it 
will be seen, refers to the seed— and of the pronominal suffix. For, 
says the learned author, " seed" in its collective sense is always re- 
ferred to by a plural pronoun and sullix. Corluy admits that this 
happens in eleven passages (Gen. xv. 13; xvii. 8, 9, Ex. xxx. 21; 
Lev. xxi. 17; IV. Kings xvii. 20; II. Esdr. ix. 2 , Jer. xxiii. 8 ; xxx, 10; 
xxxiii. 2G; xlvi. 27; Ezech. xx. 5; cf. Spicil. vol. i. p. 349), but de 


and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall "crush thy 
head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel." 

nies that it is always observed (Gen. xxii. 17 ; xxiv. 60). Hence it 
must be determined from the context whether in the present passage 
seed is taken in its collective sense or applies to an individual. This, 
however, may be said in general, that most probably the word must 
be taken in the same sense in both instances. 

Another difficulty arises from the fact that seed in the signification 
of offspring may apply to either the physical progeny in its strict 
sense, or to a moral dependency on another, a similarity of state or 
character, a likeness of manners and principles (cf. Is. i. 4; Ivii. 4; 
Ps. xxxvi. (xxxvii.) 28 ; Prov. xi. 21; Matt. iii. 7; xii. 34; Luke iii. 7; 
.John viii. 44; Rom. iv. 12. 

1. If it be asked what is meant by the seed of the serpent, there 
can be no doubt that we must understand the word in its physical and 
collective sense; as long as the question is restricted to the serpent 
proper, there is to be a -perpetual enmity and warfare between the 
serpent kind and mankind. 

2. But when the seed, not of the serpent proper, but of its agent, 
the devil, is in question, we may understand it to signify . a. all evil 
spirits (Matt. xxv. 41; Apoc. xii. 7,9); b. all bad men (Matt, xxiii. 33; 
John viii. 44); c. both evil spirits and bad men. With Corluy we 
believe that the serpent's, i.e., the devil's, seed in our passage most 
probably applies to bad men alone. They alone are called "brood 
of vipers" (Matt. iii. 7); "children of the devil " (Acts xiii. 10), while 
the evil spirits are commonly called the devil's angels (Matt xxv. 
41), and the rulers of the world of this darkness (Eph. vi 12). 
If it be objected that evil spirits as well as bad men live in enmity 
with the seed of the woman, it must be remembered that the e*dl 
spirits are not the devil's seed in such a strict sense as bad men are. 
They are rather his equals than his offspring. It is therefore more 
in conformity with the personal opposition of enmity placed by God 
between the woman and the serpent, to restrict the serpent's seed to 
the collection of bad men. 

In the next place we must determine what is meant by the seed of 
the woman. Two facts have already been noticed as affecting this 
question : 1. That the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent 
are opposed to one another in the passage under discussion, and 
must therefore be taken in the same sense, as far as the context will 
allow it ; 2. that bad men properly constitute the serpent's seed in 
so far as the serpent represents the devil. Consequently, we must 
take the seed of the woman collectively, excluding, however, all bad 
men. Such a limited collective meaning of seed is by no means un- 
known in the language of Sacred Scripture ; cf. Gen. xxi. 12 and 
Horn. ix. 7 : in both passages the collective sense of the seed has been 

Reasons for this explanation of seed : 1. Tradition favors this ex- 
planation of seed : Josephus (Antiqu. i. 1), St. Ephrein (lib. Attends 
tibi 11), St. Ambrose (de fuga sa>culi, 42), St. Chrysostom (horn. 17 
in (Jen. 7), St. Jerome (qiuest. in Gen. iii. 15) ; cf. a Lapide, Marius, 


To the 14 woman also he said: "I will multiply thy sorrows, and 

Bonfrerius, Calmet, Reinke, Hiinpel (Quartalschrift, 1859), Heng- 
stenberg, etc. 

2. The context requires that the seed of the woman be taken col- 
lectively. Two points must here be noticed : a. A successful enmity 
with the devil is carried on by all who are in the grace of Christ 
(John vi. 40-47 ; x. 7-9 ; xiv. 6 ; Acts iv. 12) ; but all who are united 
to Christ by his grace form with Christ one mystic bodv (I. Cor. xii. 
12-14, 27 ; Eph. iv. 13 ; i. 22 ; Col. i. 18 ; Gal. iii. 24-*28). In this 
sense therefore Christ alone, i.e., his mystical body alone, is the seed 
of the woman, h. The seed of the woman may be taken collectively 
even in an unlimited sense, so as to comprise the whole human race. 
For through Jesus Christ all men have obtained the power of suc- 
cessfully combating the serpent, though not all men make use of it. 

3. The end of the prophecy requires that the seed of the woman 
be understood in its collective sense. For the prediction was to con- 
vey consolation to Adam and Eve. And how could they have been 
consoled by the mere assurance that some individual would at some 
future time overcome the devil ? But great must have been their 
consolation when they understood that all could successfully strive 
against him, if they were only willing to do so. An implicit faith in 
the future Redeemer was sufficient in the case of those living in the 
Old Testament to secure the grace of Christ requisite for a success- 
ful struggle. 

4. St. Paul (Rom. xvi. 20) appears to apply the seed of the woman 
to all the just taken collectively. Whenever the apostle seems to 
understand the expression of an individual (Gal. iii. 10), he argues 
not from the literal but from the mystical meaning of the word, sup- 
posing that the whole collection of the just is through Christ, the 
spiritual seed of Abraham. This signification of the term has been 
explained in 2 a. 

5. In point of fact, the fulfilment of the prophecy warrants us in 
understanding "seed "in, its collective meaning. Jesus Christ has 
not alone overcome the devil, but all the just by the grace of Christ 
have gained the same victory (cf. Luke x. 9; I. Pet. v. 9; I. 
John ii. 13 ; Col. ii. 15.) If such a victory is said to surpass the 
power of creatures (I. John iii. 8 ; Heb. ii. 14, 15), we understand that 
this is meant of creatures not aided by the grace of Jesus Christ. 
That Cod requires of every one a successful struggle against evil is 
so often insisted on that we need not multiply passages in its proof. 
Should we be told that no new enmity was put between the collective 
seed of the woman and the serpent's seed, we point to the fact that 
by virtue of the words " I will put enmities " the woman's seed was 
raised from the rank of the serpent's subject to that of its successful 
foe. This is sufficiently important to be considered as the fulfilment 
of the prediction. If the word "seed" is often used to denote an 
individual, or even the Messias (Gen. xxii. 18; xxvi. 4; xxviii. 14; 
Is. iv. 2 ; Zach. iii IS ; vi. 12, etc.), it does not follow that it always 
has that meaning, especially in passages in which we have good rea- 
son for assuming the collective sense of the word. The patristic tes- 
timony in favor of the individual meaning of seed (Iren. liar. iv. 10 ; 


thy conceptions; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and 

Cyprian, advers Juda?os. ii. 9 ; Leo the Great, Serm. 21) is fully out- 
weighed by the patristic testimony given above. The authority of 
commentators named in the same place outweighs that of Smits, 
Patrizi, Bade, etc. 

13 Crushing of the Serpent's Head. — Now we come to a more vexed 
question. Must we read " she," or " he," or " it " shall crush thy 
head ? In other words, is the woman the subject of the clause, or is 
the seed its subject? The latter interpretation is preferable, for the 
following reasons : 1. Excepting two codices, the Hebrew text gives 
everywhere the masculine form of the pronoun. Jewish tradition, 
as manifested in the pointing of the word, is unanimous in favor of 
the masculine form. Maimonides alone favors the feminine 2. The 
context requires the masculine form of the pronoun ; the noun which 
immediately precedes and to which the pronoun refers is masculine 
(seed), and in the following clause two pronominal suffixes which 
refer to the pronoun now in question are both masculine. 3. All 
the old versions favor the masculine form of the pronoun. From all 
the codices of the Septuagint, as well as from the language of all 
Greek Fathers who quote Gen. iii. 15, it is evident that the Septuagint 
had the masculine pronoun. Theophilus alone employs the neuter 
form " it ; " but probably he employed this gender merely to correct 
a grammatical error without ceasing for that reason to indicate a 
masculine agent (cf. Gal. iii. 16 ; John i. 10-12 ; Matt, xxviii. 19 ; 
Luke viii. 5). St. Cyprian (c. Jud. ii. 9) and St. Jerome (qusest. heb. 
in Gen.) testify thatthe Itala road " he shall crush ; " Leo the Great, 
Peter Chrysologus, and the translator of Irenseus bear witness to the 
same fact. If Kufinus' translation of Josephus (Antiqu. i. 3) reads 
"she" in our passage, it must be remembered that Rufinus has often 
substituted his own for his author's opinions. Regarding the Latin 
translation of St. Chrysostom the same must be said ; for the better 
Greek codices have the masculine form "he." The Syriac and 
Samaritan versions too read "he shall crush." Onkelos favors the 
masculine " he ; " Pseudo-Jonathan explains the word in a collective 

The question concerning the relation of the pronoun " he " is more 
easily settled. We refer it to the word " seed," and not to " woman." 
Reasons: 1. Seed is the noun nearest to the pronoun "he "in the 
Hebrew text ; but as a general rule pronouns refer back to the near- 
est noun agreeing with them in gender. 2. The pronoun in question 
agrees in gender with the noun "seed," not with "woman;" the 
same holds for the pronominal suffixes which in the same passage 
refer back to the pronoun itself, and through it to seed. 3. All the 
ancient versions, excepting the Vulgate, refer the pronoun to seed ; 
the text of the Vulgate is the sole reason why some writers have re- 
ferred it to woman. Corluy tells us that several Fathers and com- 
mentators openly assert the reference of the pronoun to the woman 
through the medium of the seed, i.e., that the woman shall crush the 
serpent's head in so far as her seed shall do so. Regarding the pas- 
sages Gen. ii. 23; Feci. xii. 4; Fst. i. 20, in which feminine nouns 
or pronouns are joined to masculine verbs, it must be observed that 


thou sbalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have 
dominion over thee." 

the context explains this abnormal agreement ; but the context of 
(ien. iii. 15 requires rather the reference of the masculine pronoun 
to the masculine noun " seed." 

The two verbs " crush " and " lie in wait for " read in the Hebrew 
text alike, so that literally we should render the verb either by 
"crush" in both cases, or by "lie in wait for." The meaning "to 
crush " well suits the other passage of the Old Testament, in which 
the same verb certainly occurs (Job ix. 17). Regarding another oc- 
currence, see Ps. cxxxviii. (cxxxix.) 11 — (Hgst., Rodiger, Delitzsch, 
Fiirst, Kalisch, Keil, Kohler, Schultz). TheTargumin (Syr., Saniar., 
Saad, Pers., Ar. Erpen., (Jr. Ven., Lth.) use the word in the same 
signification ; but the Septuagint and Onkelos (Kno., Baur, Ewald, 
Dillm.) prefer the meaning " to lie in wait for." St. Jerome employs 
both these meanings, rendering the verb according to the context, by 
"crushing" in the first place, and by "lying in wait for" in the 
second. The double accusative following the verb in Hebrew points 
to a meaning "to attack," "to crush;" the construction does not 
occur with verbs meaning "to lie in wait for." Corluy is of opinion 
that a more general term, eg., "to attack," would be more in keep 
ing with the precise meaning of the verb — a meaning necessarily 
qualified by the context (cf. Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar, 1887, p. 

The serpent's head in our case is the reign of the devil (John xii. 31; 
Col. ii. 15 ; 1. John iii. 8), or the reign of sin (Rom. v. 21; vi. 16-18), 
the end of which is death (Rom. vi. 21-23). The crushing of the ser- 
pent's head implies a mortal wound (cf. Johnxiv. 80; xii. 31; xvi. 11), 
such as the reign of evil received at the foot of the cross. The heel 
of the seed is either the humanity of Jesus Christ or his mystical 
body, the Church. Against both the serpent has waged war, as both 
the gospels and history testify (cf. Apoc. xii 13 ; Matt. xiii. 2o ; Job i. 
6, 9 ; Zach. iii. 1 ; Apoc. xii. 10; Luke xxii. 31 ; Eph. ii. 2 ; vi. 11 ; 
I. Pet. v. 8 ; Matt. xvi. 18 ; I. Cor. x. 13). But the wounds inflicted 
by the serpent on the seed are slight and curable. 

14 b. Sentence against Ece. — It may be freely granted that Adam 
and Eve did not fully understand the meaning of the prophecy now 
discussed as we understand it in the light of its fulfilment. They 
did not know when, by whom, and how they were to be saved ; but 
still the general assurance was given them that both they themselves 
and the seed of the woman should be enabled to carry on a successful 
enmity against the serpent, to overcome sin and temptation, to culti- 
vate virtue, and finally to be received again into God's favor. But 
whatever may have been the insight into God's merciful promises 
granted to our first parents, it surely sufficed to strengthen them 
under the weight of their own punishment. 

Eve's sentence is in strict accord with her part in Adam's tempta- 
tion and fall. Adam's conjugal love for his wife had been tin; lever 
which moved his will from the love of God ; Eve's punishment con- 
sists precisely in her obligation of bearing the painful consequences 


And to 15 Adam he said: " Because thou hast hearkened to the 
voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded 
thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work, 
with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. 
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat 
the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat 
bread, till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken : 
for dust thou art, and into dust shalt thou return." 

of Adam's conjugal love, which she had abused. Without noticing 
the opinion that her conceptions were actually increased beyond the 
number which they would have reached in paradise (Ephr.), we may 
safely regard the phrase as a Hebrew idiom, meaning : " 1 will mul- 
tiply thesorrows of thy conceptions." Both gestation and childbirth 
would have been painless in man's state of innocence, but after the 
sin God's sentence states: "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth chil- 
dren." And as if it were not enough to be thus punished in the two 
physical consequences of her conjugal love, (Jod adds the penalty of 
having to bear the evil of two moral effects of the same. The Hebrew 
text suggests the following meaning of this additional punishment : 
" notwithstanding the great pain which will follow, thou shalt desire 
after thy husband, or thy desires shall be conformable to thy hus- 
band's will, and he shall have dominion over thee." In the light of 
history the grievousness of the sentence becomes appalling. The 
degradation and moral slavery to which women were subject before 
the time of Christ, and to which they are even now exposed in un- 
christian nations, are so well known that they need no further de- 

15 c. Sentence against Adam. — Adam's punishment too well suits 
his sin : he had yielded to the love of a creature in preference to that 
of God, and now the creature will turn against him ; he had eaten of 
the forbidden fruit, and now the earth will refuse him the necessary 
food; he had disobeyed his Maker and his God, and now the earth 
over which God has given him dominion will disobey him. Abuse 
of authority on the part of the rational creature will thus bring about 
rebellion and resistance on the part of the irrational creature. 

The sentence itself develops the punishment step by step : 1. The 
earth is cursed in general, in so far as it will oblige Adam to toil for 
his food ; 2. the uneatable products of the earth will be multiplied, 
its consumable products will deteriorate and grow scarce ; 8. even 
these deteriorated articles of food will require hard labor ; 4. all this 
will continue throughout Adam's life-time; 5. finally, the earth will 
reclaim man's body. 


Corollary: The Messianic Character of the 

1. Christian Testimony.— The Fathers of the Church 
unanimously speak of Eve as the type of the Blessed Vir- 
gin Mary — a type founded both on the striking similitude 
and dissimilitude of its antitype. Referring to the learned 
work of Passaglia (De imm. conoeptione, t. ii. pp. 812 f.) for 
the fuller development of this doctrine, we must for the 
present content ourselves with the view of the Church 
expressed clearly in her liturgy, the common reading of 
her authentic Latin version of the Bible, and the Papal 
bull " Ineffabilis Deus," in which the dogma of the Im- 
maculate Conception is taught ex cathedra. From all 
this we rightly infer that the Holy Ghost, when inspiring 
this prophecy, intended to point out typically the Blessed 
Mother Mary and her signal enmity against the devil. 
And since he even then clearly foreknew the whole extent 
of this enmity, we reasonably conclude that he also in- 
tended to foreshadow its plenitude, especially as it is mani- 
fested in her immaculate conception. 

2. Rabbinic Testimony.— But for the present we are 
rather in search of arguments for the Messianic interpreta- 
tion of the Synagogue given to the so-called Protevangel. 
It is true that the Rabbinic writers have used the passage 
in a most curious context, which seems at first sight to 
exclude all Messianic interpretation. We need only refer 
to the commentary given of Gen. ii. 4, as explained in 
Ber. R, 12 (ed. Warsh. p. 24 b). The Hebrew word for 
generations, "toledoth," is always written in the Bible 
without the quiescent letter i (vav) — a letter signifying the 
numerical value six. In Gen. ii. 4 and Ruth iv. 18, how- 
ever, the quiescent letter occurs in " toledoth." This fact 
is thus interpreted by the Rabbinic authority above re- 
ferred to. After the fall, i.e., subsequent to Gen. ii. 4, 
Adam lost vav, i.e., six things: his glorious sheen (Job 


xiv. 20); life (Gen. iii. 19); his stature either by 100, or by 
200, or by 300, or even by 900 cubits (Gen. iii. 8); the fruit 
of the ground; the fruits of the trees (Gen. iii. 17); and 
the heavenly lights. In Gen. ii. 4 the i (vav) is still in the 
" toledoth," because Adam still possesses the six gifts, and 
the letter reappears in Ruth iv. 18, because these six things 
are to be restored to man by the " son of Pharez," or the 
Messias. Though according to the literal rendering of 
Ps. xlviii. (xlix.) 12 (in Hebrew 13) man did not remain 
unfallen one single night, yet for the sake of the Sabbath 
the heavenly lights were not extinguished till after the 
close of the Sabbath. It is added that when Adam saw 
the darkness he was very much afraid, saying: " Perhaps 
he of whom it is written, 'he shall bruise thy head, and 
thou shalt bruise his heel,' cometh to molest and attack 
1110," and lie said: "The darkness shall surely cover me." 
In reference to the six things, compare: Judg. v. 31 b; Is. 
lxviii. 22; Lev. xxvi. 13; Zach. viii. 12; Is. xxx. 2G (cf. 
Edersheim, " The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," 5th 
ed., New York, ii. p. 711). 

3. But whatever may have given rise to such a context, 
Rabbinic literature certainly acknowledges the Messianic 
bearing of Gen. iii. 15. " The voice of the Lord God walk- 
ing in paradise" is identified with the Shechinah and the 
Middle Column. The Targ. Jonathan has it: "And they 
heard the voice of the Word of the Lord which walked 
about in the garden." The Jerusalem Targ. has in the 
following verse: " And the Word of the Lord called Adam." 
Tikkune Zohar (c. G princ.) writes: "They heard the voice 
of the Lord, which was the Middle Column, and the Shech- 
inah was with it. The voice walking in the garden was the 
Middle Column." And again: "The voice in the garden 
was the Shechinah." And in another place (Bammidbar 
Rabba, sect. 13, fol. 218, i.) it is written: "Was not the 
principal occupation of the Shechinah this, that it dwelled 
on earth? as it is written: And they heard the voice of 
the Lord walking in the garden." Philo has the following 


remarks (De somniis, p. 461): "The Holy Word has com- 
manded some what to do, as their king; others it lias use- 
fully instructed as a teacher informs his disciples; others, 
again, it has advised in the best manner as their counsellor, 
since they could not advise themselves. Besides, it has 
committed to others all kinds of secrets, which an unini- 
tiated person must not hear. At times, too, it asks persons : 
Where art thou ? as it asked Adam." Moreover, the Messias 
is represented by the Rabbinic writers as having repeatedly 
visited our parents in paradise (Bereshith Rabba, sect. 11, 
fol. 11, 3; sect. 12, fol. 12, 4 ; Zohar chadash, fol. 82, 4). 

The thirteenth verse of the context is also explained so 
as to allude to the Messias. For Tikkune Zohar (c. 98, 
princ.) paraphrases the words, " Why hast thou done this ?" 
so as to refer the " this " to the Messias. In this manner 
the sin committed against' " this " has been committed 
against the Shechinah. 

But it is especially when treating of the fifteenth verse 
that the Rabbinic writers become clear and definite beyond 
all possible misunderstanding. The Jerusalem Targum 
thus paraphrases the passage: "And it shall come to pass, 
when the children of the woman shall labor in the law, and 
perform the commandments, that they shall bruise and 
smite thee on the head, and shall kill thee; but when the 
children of the woman shall forsake the precepts of the 
law, and shall not perform the commandments, thou shalt 
bruise and smite them on their heel and hurt them; but 
there shall be remedy for the children of the woman, but 
for thee, serpent, there shall be no remedy; for hereafter 
they shall to each other perform a healing in the heel, in 
the latter end of the days, in the days of King Messias." 

The Targum of Jonathan speaks in the same strain, and 
then concludes : " Nevertheless there shall be a remedy for 
them, but to thee there shall not be a remedy; for they 
shall hereafter perform a healing in the heel in the days of 
King Messias." 

The Talmud Sota (fol. 49, col. 2) speaks of the heels of 


the Messias, and thus describes the time when they will be 
bruised : " Rabbi Pinchas, the son of Yair, said : ' Since the 
destruction of the Temple, the Sages and the Nobles are 
ashamed and cover their heads. The wonder-workers are 
disdained, and those who rely upon their arm and tongue 
have become great. There is none who teaches Israel, 
none who prays for the people, none who inquires [of the 
Lord]. Upon whom, then, are we to trust? Upon our 
Father who is in heaven/ Rabbi Eliezer the Great said : 
' Since the destruction of the Temple, the Sages have com- 
menced to be like school-masters, and the school-masters 
like precentors, and the precentors like the laymen, and 
these too grow worse, and there is none who asks or in- 
quires. Upon whom, then, are we to trust ? Upon our 
Father who is in heaven. In the footprints of the Messias 
impudence will increase, and there will be scarcity. The 
vine will produce its fruit, but wine will be dear. The 
government will turn itself to heresy, and there will be no 
reproof. And the house of assembly will be for fornication. 
Galilee will be destroyed, and Gablan laid waste, and men 
of Gebul will go from city to city and find no favor. And 
the wisdom of the scribes will stink, and those who fear sin 
will be despised, and truth will fail. Boys will confuse the 
faces of old men. Old men will rise up before the young. 
The son will treat the father shamefully, and the daughter 
will rise up against her mother, and the daughter-in-law 
against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes will be those 
of his own household. The face of that generation will be 
as the face of a dog; the son will have no shame before 
his father. Upon whom, then, are we to trust ? Upon our 
Father who is in heaven '" (1. c, col. a.b.). 

The fifteenth verse receives a Messianic interpretation 
also in Zohar Gen. (fol. 7G, col. 301 ; fol. 77, col. 305), where 
the phrase "he shall crush thy head" is once applied to the 
Messias, and again to the ever -blessed God. Schottgen 
conjectures that the Talmudic designation of "heels of the 
Messias " (Sot. 49 b., line 2 from top) in reference to the 


near advent of the Messias in the description of the troubles 
of those days (of. St. Matt. x. 35, 3G) may have been chosen 
partly with a view to this passage. 

Then again, the words of Eve at the birth of Seth (Gen. 
iv. 25) seem to have reference to our prophecy. For 
"another seed" is explained as seed that comes from 
another place, and referred to the Messias in Ber. R. 23 
(ed. Warsh. p. 45 b., lines 8 and 7 from the bottom). The 
same explanation occurs twice in the Midrash on Kuth iv. 
19 (in the genealogy of David, ed. Warsh. p. 46 b.), the 
second time in connection with Ps. xxxix. (xl.) 8, " in the 
volume of the book it is written of me," Ruth belonging to 
the class of "volumes/' Megilloth, which consisted of Cant., 
Kuth, Lament., Eccles., Esther. 

Besides all these references, the Rabbinic passages which 
represent the Messias as a true man, and which describe 
his birth and childhood, testify to his being the son of a 



THE MESSIAS IS THE SON OF SEM. Gen. ix. 18-27. » 

Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— a. Reasons 
from the Text. — 1. The very words indicate that Jahveh, the 

God of the supernatural order, Avill be the God of Sem. It is 
therefore quite plain that all the supernatural blessing of 
the human race will come through Sem's family. 2. Be- 
sides, it is implied that these blessings will be many and 
various; instead of enumerating them all, the holy patri- 
arch simply praises Jahveh for them : " Blessed be Jahveh, 
the God of Sem." 3. Bochart (Phaleg, ii, 05 seqq. ed. iv.) 
beautifully explains why Xoe does not bless Sem in his 
own person, as he blesses Japhet and curses Chanaan. 
For the evil that is in us, and to some extent also the nat- 
ural and supernatural good, is owing to ourselves, but the 
benefit of redemption is owing to God's goodness alone. 
Hence, Noe blesses God when he comes to speak of Sem. 
4. It must also be noted that the present jn-ophecy is the 
counterpart of the protevangelium : the latter indicates 

1 The passage may be divided into two parts: 1. Verses 18-24 give 
an account of the occasion which gave rise to Noe's prophecy; 2. 
Verses 25-27 contain the triple prophecy. Before describing the 
occasion of the patriarch's blessing, the inspired writer briefly states 
the importance of the whole incident. As the first Messianic proph- 
ecy is connected with the sin of the first father of the whole human 
race, so is the second promise connected with a material sin of the 
second father of the human race. Hence it is that the three sons of 
the patriarch are enumerated and represented as the progenitors of 
the whole human family. 


that the redemption will come through the seed of the 
woman, i.e., through man; Noe's prophecy announces that 
our supernatural good will come through God's special 
dwelling in the tents of Sem, i.e., through God. In the 
subsequent development of the Messianic prophecies some- 
times the human side of the Redeemer, sometimes the 
divine side, is represented, until finally the two lines of 
predictions coalesce in the God -man Jesus Christ (cf. 
Briggs, " Messianic Prophecy," pp. 82 f.). 

b. Reasons from Authority.— St. Augustine understands 
the prophecy in a Messianic sense where he explains the 
blessing of Japhet: "It was precisely this that was pre- 
dicted when it was said: May God enlarge Japhet, and may 
he dwell in the tents of Sem, i.e., in the churches which 
the sons of the prophets, the apostles, have constructed/' 
The Messianic reference of the blessing is then, accord- 
ing to the great African Doctor, certain beyond all 
doubt. St. Jerome too refers Noe's words to the same 
Messianic fulfilment (Qua^stiones Gen., Opp. t. iii. p. L34) : 
"When he says: May he dwell in the tents of Sem, 
he prophesies about us, who are in possession of the 
knowledge and the science of the Scriptures after Israel 
has been rejected." Even Jonathan explains the holy 
patriarch's words concerning Sem as referring to Sem's 
spiritual blessedness: " The Lord will render illustrious the 
boundary of Japhet, and his sons will become proselytes, 
and live in the school of Sem." >S7. Justin agrees 
in his exposition with that of St. Augustine, interpreting 
the living of the Japhetites in the tents of Sem as their 
conversion to the faith in Christ (cf. Justin., Dialog, cum 
Tryphone, August., de Civitate Dei, 1. xvi. c. 2, etc.). 
Rupertus too sees in the patriarch's blessing a prediction 
of the Gentiles' conversion to Christianity (1. iv. in Gen.). 
As to Jewish authorities, we may first of all point to the 
above words of the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan. The 
ancient book Bereshith Rabba (sect. 3G, fol. 35,4) remarks 
on " may he dwell in the tents of Sem": "The Shechinah 


dwells only in the tents of 8cm/' And since the Shechinah 
is repeatedly identified with the Messias, it follows that 
the treatise quoted sees a Messianic reference in Noe's 

c. Reasons from Convenience. — It may be of interest to 
consider a few reasons which show a priori, as it were, 
the Messianic reference of Noe's blessing to the Messi- 
anic times. a. When the human race is split up into dif- 
ferent families, the divine names too are distributed among 
the various families: Elohim is the God of the Japhetites, 
Jahveh is the God of the Semites (cf. Orelli, " Old Testa- 
ment Prophecy," p. 98). It is therefore fit that on the same 
occasion the general promise of salvation given to the 
whole human race should be in so far particularized as 
to determine the branch which would be the saving medi- 
ator, b. Again, since Messianic promises are connected 
with all the mediators with whom God made a special cove- 
nant-— with Adam, Abraham, Moses — it is antecedently prob- 
able that a Messianic promise should be connected with 
the remaining Old Testament mediator too; for the cove- 
nant which God made with Noe is the second of the four 
great covenants regulating the relations between God and 
man before the time of Jesus Christ (cf. Elliott, " Old 
Testament Prophecy," p. 194). 

d. Exceptions Answered. — 1. If any one should find it 
hard to understand the tents of Sem as designating the 
Church, it must be kept in mind that the word has a sim- 
ilar figurative meaning repeatedly. Thus in Zach. xii. 7 
" the tents of Juda," in Mai. ii. 12, " the tents of Jacob " 
are designations for the theocracy. In the Gospel of Luke, 
xvi. 9, there is question of a reception into everlasting hab- 
itations, instead of admittance into the kingdom of God. 
At any rate, this difficulty affects only those who prefer 
Japhet to God as the subject of the clause "may he dwell 
in the tents of Sem." 2. The exception that several of 
the patristic testimonies are irrelevant, because they evi- 
dently regard Japhet and not God as the subject of the 


clause " may he dwell/' is not to the point. For whatever 
special interpretation they may give of the details of Noe's 
prophecy, they certainly refer the whole to the Messias, 
and this is all we need for the truth of our thesis. 

e. Arguments from the New Testament. — Finally, the 
Messianic promise given to Noe, or rather through Noe to 
Sem, is several times alluded to in the New Testament. St. 
Paul, in his epistle to the Ephesians (ii. 14), consoles them with 
the following words: " For he is our peace, who hath made 
both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, 
the enmities in his flesh." These words alone would per- 
haps be too obscure to be taken as an allusion to the par- 
tition between the three human races; but then the apostle 
adds (ii. 19): "Now, therefore, you are no more strangers 
and foreigners: but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, 
and the domestics of God." What more striking fulfil- 
ment of the prediction "may Japhet dwell in the tents of 
Sem," i.e., of Jahveh's special client, could St. Paul have 
pointed out in the Christian dispensation ? And lest any 
one should imagine that Sem has been dispossessed entirely 
of his tents, the same apostle writes to the Romans (xi. 25): 
" For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this 
mystery (lest you should be wise in your own conceits) : 
that blindness in part hath happened in Israel, until the 
fulness of the Gentiles should come in, and so all Israel 
should be saved." 

Gen. ix. 18-27. 

And 2 the sons of Noe, who came out of the ark, were Sem, 
Cham, and Japhet, and Cham is the father of Chanaan. These 

2 The sons of Noe. The question asked here is whether the three 
sons are enumerated according to their age. a. The order, Sem, 
Chain, Japhet, is followed in Gen. v. 32; vi. 10; vii. 13; ix. (5; x. 1; 
hence St. Augustine, St. Eucberius, a Lapide, Rosenmliller, Keil, Dill- 
niann, and others have inferred that ('ham was older than Japhet 
and younger than Sem. b. On the other hand, Lamy, Knohel, De- 
litzsch, Lange, and others contend that Cham was the youngest of 
Noe's sons, on account of verse 24: " when he heard what his younger 
son had done to him." For the Hebrew expression translated 


three are the sons of Noe, and from these was all mankind spread 
over the whole earth. And Noe, a husbandman, 3 began to till 
the ground, and planted a vineyard. And drinking of the wine, 
was made drunk, and was 4 uncovered in his tent. Which when 
Cham, the father of Chanaan, had seen, to wit that his father's 
nakedness was uncovered, he told it to his two brethren without. 
But Sem and Japhet put a cloak upon their shoulders, and going 
backward, covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces 

"younger" has the meaning of a comparative only when there is 
question of two, while it has the force of the superlative when it 
refers to more than two (cf. (Jen. xxvii. 15; xxix. 18; xlii. 18; 
xliv. 2; I. Kings xvi. 11; xvii. 12-14). As to the passages above cited 
for the previous opinion, the adherents of the second opinion say 
that the Bible does not always follow the order of seniority in its 
enumerations (cf. I. Par. i. 28; ii. 2). That Sem was the eldest of 
Noe's sons is evident from Gen. x. 21: "Of Sem also, the father of 
all the children of Heber, the elder brother of Japhet, sons were 
born." c. In order to do justice to both opinions, it must be 
stated that the adherents of the first sometimes explain the phrase 
" his younger son" as referring to Noe's grandson Chanaan, who had 
first of all seen the patriarch's nakedness and made light of it; it was 
probably he who had told Chain of it. Again, the LXX. Synim., 
Ven., Lth., and the Masoretic accentuators interpret Gen. x. 21 as 
meaning "the brother of Japhet, the eldest," so that according to 
them Japhet, Cham, Sem would be the order of seniority, d. \\ ell- 
hausen and Budde's assertion that the original text read Sem, Japhet. 
Chanaan, and that Cham has been inserted by the compiler, falls 
with their system of Pentateuch criticism. 

8 Noe began to till the ground. It is not stated whether the cul- 
tivation of the vine was known before the Hood, or was first intro- 
duced by Noe. Matt. xxiv. 38 inclines us to believe that the use of 
wine existed even before the earth was visited by the deluge. Put 
whatever we may think of this point, St. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and 
St. Jerome are of opinion that Noe's drunkenness was not sinful, 
because he did not know the strength of the wine; St. Ephrem ex- 
cuses the patriarch from all sin because his intoxication was due to 
his total abstinence from all strong drink practised for many years 
previous to the occurrence which gave rise to the prophecy now 
under consideration. 

4 Was uncovered. The fact that Noe uncovered himself is probably 
owing to tin; heat of the wine. Thus was he who bad not been 
touched by the waters of the flood overcome by the influence of 
wine. The Fathers see in Noe thus exposed a type of Christ hanging 
liaised on the cross (Jerome, c. Lucif. ; Aug. Cyprian, etc.). The 
Hebrew lext speaks of "the cloak " instead of "a cloak," thus indi- 
cating that Noe had thrown off his cloak like garment, or the simlah, 
and that Sem and Japhet replaced the same. The phrase "awaking 
from the wine" means nothing else but awaking from the effects of 
the wine. 


were turned away, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 
And Noe, awaking from the wine, when he had learned what his 
younger son had done to him, he & said: " Cursed be 6 Chanaan, 

5 He said. Having thus far considered the occasion of the prophecy, 
we must now review the prediction itself. As to form, it consists of 
three members: the first is a curse of Chanaan ; the second blesses 
Sem and again curses Chanaan; the third blesses J aphet and probably 
Sem, but certainly insists again on the curse of Chanaan. A few re- 
marks must be made about each of the three members : 1. Why is 
Chanaan cursed instead of Cham ? 2. What is the precise meaning of 
the Hebrew word which is translated by " enlarging " ? 3. What is 
the subject of the clause ''may he dwell in the tents of Sem"? 
4. What are the tents of Sem? 

6 Cursed be Chanaan. 1. The substitution of Chanaan for Cham as 
the subject of the patriarch's curse has been variously explained by 
different authors, a. If we accept in the first place the opinion of 
several Jewish writers (cf. Origen, Selecta in Gen.) that Chanaan was 
the first who had sinned against Noe's authority, his punishment 
will appear the natural consequence, b. But even without this sup- 
position, Cham, Noe's youngest son, was severely punished in the 
curse of his youngest son, as all the parents suffer in the misfortune 
of their children, c. Chanaan was chosen as the subject of the pre- 
dicted punishment, because God in his wisdom foresaw the future 
perverseness of Chanaan's race. d. At all events, when there is 
question of merely temporal punishments, it is not at all uncommon 
that the innocent are made to suffer instead of the guilty, even down 
to the fourth generation (cf. (Jen. xx,). e. The Fathers think that 
Noe did not inflict his curse directly on Cham because he did not 
consider himself authorized to curse him whom God had blessed on 
his leaving the ark. /. Others again think that all Cham's de- 
scendants were cursed, but that Chanaan is mentioned to animate 
Israel against its enemies, the Chanaanites. 

The curse itself consists in Chanaan's becoming the servant of ser- 
vants, i.e., the vilest servant, to his brethren ; and such has become 
Chanaan's condition, both morally and socially. The moral standing 
of Chanaan's descendants is well illustrated by the cities of the Plain 
and the corruption of the Chanaanite races as described by Moses 
(cf. Lev. xviii., xx., Deut. xii. 31). The immorality of the Phoeni- 
cians and the Carthaginians was proverbial even in Pagan an- 
tiquity (cf. Munter, " Religion der Carthager," pp. 250 ft\). The his- 
tory of Chanaan's social standing is equally significant. As Moses 
and Josue, and later on Solomon, subjected the Chanaanites of 
Palestine to the rule of Sem's descendants (Jos. ix. 21 ff. ; III. Kings 
ix. 20 ff.). so did the Japhetites subdue the Phoenicians and the 
Carthaginians by means of the Persians, the Greeks, and the 
Romans. Even the Egyptian descendants of Cham have shared the 
same fate of slavery, or they are even now involved in the more 
galling chains of sin and idolatry. It may be noted, by the way, that 
if the passage containing Chanaan's curse had been composed after the 
destruction of the Chanaanites by means of the Israelites, it surely 
would have been couched in far different language ; there would 


a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." And he said: 

have been at least traces of the manner in which the fulfilment of 
the supposed prediction was really accomplished. 

If it be asked what became of the other sons of Cham, since they 
are not at all mentioned in the whole passage, a. Lange and 
Delitzsch see in this total silence a bad omen for their future. 
b. Others, like Keil, are of opinion that all the sons of Chain were 
virtually cursed in their youngest brother Chanaan. The curse here 
spoken of does not, however, exclude from life eternal ; here, as in 
the case of Esau, it refers directly to the temporal welfare of its 
objects. If the children who must thus bear the sins of their 
parents serve God with their whole heart, their want of temporal 
prosperity will prove a spiritual blessing. 

7 May God enlarge Japhet. 2. The second point concerning which 
interpreters differ is the exact meaning of the Hebrew word trans- 
lated "may (God) enlarge." The primary meaning of the verb 
seems to be " to persuade, to enable one to do a thing." A. Owing 
to this fact, several interpreters have translated " alliciat Deus 
Japhetum, ut habitet in tentoriis Semi." There are, however, a 
number of reasons militating against this interpretation : a. Only 
Piel is said to be used in the above sense, while the verb in the 
present passage is in the Hiphil form. b. Besides, the meaning "to 
persuade " appears to be mostly used in its bad sense ; however, in 
Jer. xx. 7 it has a good sense, c. The verb in the sense "to per- 
suade " is always used with the accusative, not with the preposition 
^, as it is used in the instance now under consideration. B. This 
last motive has induced Kelle to translate, " May God intercede for 
Japhet." But this interpretation appears very unnatural. C. Hence 
it is preferable to follow the interpretation of the LXX., the Vulgate, 
Onkelos, and the Arabic version, which give to the verb the mean- 
ing " to be broad," a meaning which it has also in Prov. xx. 19. 
The corresponding Chaldee verb is commonly taken in the sense " to 
be broad." Besides all this, it is worthy of note that verbs of a 
similar import are elsewhere construed with the preposition b (cf. 
Gen. xxvi. 22 ; Ps. iv. 2 ; Prov. xviii. 16). The prediction which 
results from this interpretation, that Japhet is to have a numerous 
posterity which shall possess widely extended territories, has found 
its historical fulfilment ; the descendants of Japhet have gained 
possession not only of all Europe, but also of a large portion of 
Asia, America, and Australia. 

8 May he dwell. 3. A third question is raised about the subject of 
the clause "may he dwell in the tents of Sem." Is it of Japhet that 
this wish is expressed, or does it refer to God himself ? A. The 
Targum of Onkelos, Philo, Mainionides, Kashi, Aben-Ezra, Baum- 
garton, Delitzsch, Oonant, Lewis, St. Ephrem, Theodoret, Lyranus, 
Tostatus, and others are of opinion that God is the subject of the 
clause. The reasons for this view may be reduced to the following 
(cf. Briggs, "Messianic Prophecy," pp. 82 f.): a. It is probable that 
the subject of the preceding verb continues in the present clause, espe- 
cially <>n account of the law of parallelism. b. The whole prophecy 
consists of seven lilies. The first two contain Chanaan 's curse ; the 


u Blessed be the Lord God of Sem, be Chanaan his servant. May 

second two contain Sem's blessing and Chanaan's curse by way of 
refrain, Sem and Chanaan being co-ordinated. Hence it is probable 
that in the last three lines, in which all three are mentioned, Sem, 
Chanaan, and Japhet are co-ordinated too. But this would not be 
the case if Japhet were the subject of the clause " may he dwell"; 
for on that supposition Japhet becomes the central figure of the 
tristich. c. Another reason for not subordinating Sem to Japhet in 
the last tristich is the fact that Sem is the more prominent in the 
whole context, d. In the previous distich God is called the God of 
Sem ; hence it seems proper that the God of Sem will live in the 
tents of Sem. e. If Japhet were to dwell in the tents of Sem, the 
natural inference would be that Japhet would conquer Sem's terri- 
tory — an interpretation which implies Sem's humiliation. /. The sub- 
sequent history and the development of the Messianic prophecies show 
that Sem should be the prominent figure in the whole prophecy. If 
God be taken as the subject of the clause " may he dwell," this end 
is obtained in a most striking and beautiful way : Chanaan is cursed 
thrice, Sem is blessed twice, and Japhet is blessed once. 

B. On the other hand, it must be remembered that Chrysostom, 
Augustine, Jerome, Michaelis, Vater, Gesenius, Drach, Lamy, Kosen- 
mi'iller, Knobel, Tuch, Delitzsch, Ewald, Dillmann, and others make 
Japhet the subject of the clause "may he dwell in the tents of Sem." 
The reasons for this interpretation are reduced by Delitzsch (Neuer 
Commentar ttber die Genesis, in h. 1.) to the following headings : 
a. As the preceding distich has Sem for the subject of its blessing, 
so must the last tristich have Japhet for the subject of its benedic- 
tion, b. Though the verb in the clause under consideration often 
signifies God's dwelling anywhere, still this idea is already implicitly 
contained in the distich where God is called the God of Sem. c. 
Sem's God is named Jahveh, while according to the above interpre- 
tation Elohim would be the God dwelling in the tents of Sem. 
d. The plural "tents" appears to indicate a plural or collective sub- 
ject, and the idea that God dwells in the tent of any Israelite is 
foreign to the Old Testament as being contrary to the belief in the 
one place of divine worship, e. The dwelling of Japhet in Sem's 
tents beautifully shows that the two brothers are to share the divine 
blessing, as they were sharers in the act of filial piety. /. Delitzsch 
himself rejects St. Justin's statement that this prediction found its 
fulfilment when the Romans subdued Palestine, because such a 
prophecy would have been a curse rather than a blessing, g. Dill- 
mann sees in the words a prediction of the future reception of the 
Japhetites into the Semitic kingdoms. But it is more likely that the 
prophecy regards Sem's tents taken in their more limited meaning, 
i.e., as the tents of Israel ; thus the future salvation of the Japhetites 
by means of the Israelite Messias would be predicted, h. The 
Talmud, too, takes Japhet to be the subject of the clause "may he 
dwell," and infers from this passage the lawful use of the Greek 
language in the sacred service of the Synagogue (Megilla 9b ; jer. 
Megilla i. 9). 

9 In the tents of Sem. 4. Finally, it is of interest (a) that several 


God 7 enlarge Japhet, and may 8 he dwell in the 9 tents of Sem, 
and Chanaan be his servant." 


a. By means of this prophecy the Messianic blessings 
were certainly connected with the family of Sem. b. Prob- 
ably it was also understood that man's salvation was to be 
accomplished by God's dwelling in a special manner among 

authors translate, "in the tents of a name" or "in tents of glory," 
instead of "in the tents of Sem." Though writers like diesenius, 
de Wette, Knobel, Anger, and Schrader advocate this interpretation, 
if>) it is very improbable that the same term should serve as proper 
name and as common noun in the same passage. Hence the common 
opinion is preferable. 

It has, no doubt, been perceived that the reasons for making 
"Japhet" the subject of the clause "may he dwell" are not so 
cogent as those for looking on Jahveh as the subject. The Poyal 
Psalmist seems to have taken this view of the passage when he says 
(Ps. cxxxi. (cxxxii.) 13, 14) : " The Lord hath chosen Sion : he hath 
desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever : here will I 
dwell, for 1 have desired it." 





Gen. xii. 1-9 ; xvii. 1-9 ; xviii. 17-19 ; xxii. 16-18 ; xxvi. 1-5 ; xxviii. 



1. Time and Place of the Prophecies.— 1. With his 
father Thare, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot, Abram left 
Ur of the Chaldees for Haran, in obedience to a call of God 
(Acts vii. 2-4). Thare himself Avas the son of Nachor, son 
of Sarug, son of Reu, son of Phaleg, son of Heber, son of 
Sale, son of Kainan (LXX.), son of Arphaxad, son of Sem. 
It appears, therefore, that Abraham belonged to the family 
to which Noe had promised the mediatorship of the Messi- 
anic blessing. 

We must briefly state the different opinions existing con- 
cerning the Ur of the Chaldees. a. According to a Tal- 
mudic tradition Abraham had been thrown by his idola- 
trous countrymen into a burning furnace because he had 
not been willing to conform with their idolatrous prac- 
tices. God delivered the patriarch from this fire of the 
Chaldees (Ur of the Chaldees), and the Mosaic record 
narrates in the present passage this miraculous delivery. 
In confirmation of this opinion II. Esdr. ix. 7 (Vulg.) may 
be cited, where " Ur of the Chaldees " is translated by " fire 
of the Chaldees" (cf. Gen. xi. 28, 31; xv. 7; Acts vii. 2; 
Jud. v. G-0). This explanation does not appear probable. 

b. Another opinion considers Ur of the Chaldees as 
identical with the land of the Chaldees (LXX., Ewald, 
Stanley), or as meaning a mountain of the Chaldees (Kno- 


bel). But unless these authorities bring better reasons for 
their view, it does not appear tenable. 

c. An old tradition identifies Ur of the Chaldees with 
Orfah or Edessa. This tradition seems to reach back to 
the date of Ephrem (330-370). The ancient name of 
Edessa appears to have been Orrha as early as the time 
of Isidore (c, B.C. 150). Pocock (Description of the East, 
vol. i. p. 159) gives this tradition as the common ojiin- 
ion among the Jews, and even at present the principal 
mosque of the city is the " Mosque of Abraham," as the 
pond in which the sacred fish is kept bears the name " Lake 
of Abraham the Beloved " (Ainsworth, u Travels in the 
Track," etc., p. 64). Again, "Ur of the Chaldees" may be 
rendered " light of the Chaldees," a title that would be given 
in the East on account of any remarkable feature of natu- 
ral beauty, as Damascus is called " the eye of the East." 

d. Another tradition appears in the Talmud and in 
some of the early Arabian writers, which finds Ur in Warka, 
the X)f>x™l of the Greeks and probably the Erech of Sacred 
Scripture, called Opex in the LXX. version. This place 
bears the name Huruk in the native inscriptions, and was 
known to the Jews as the "land of the Chaldees." Ewald 
and Stanley may be understood as holding this opinion. 

e. Another opinion, again, which is not supported by any 
tradition, identifies the "Ur of the Chaldees" with a 
castle existing in Eastern Mesopotamia, between Hatra and 
Nisibis, which is mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus 
(xxv. 8, col. 26). The chief arguments in favor of this 
opinion are the identity of the castle's name with " Ur of 
the Chaldees," and its position between Arrapachitis, the 
supposed home of Abraham's ancestors, and llaran, whither 
he went from Ur. 

/. Finally, there is another obscure tradition which 
places the " Ur of the Chaldees " south of Babylon, though 
it distinguishes the place from Warka (Journal of Asiatic 
Society, vol. xii. p. 481, note 2). This tradition may be 
traced in Eupolemus (c. n.c. 150) as quoted by Eusebius 


(Prsep. Ev. ix. 17), who identifies Ur with a Babylonian 
city known as Camarina. Now Camarina is the city of 
the moon, Kamar signifying "moon " in Arabic, and Khaldi 
bearing the same meaning in Old Armenian. The Baby- 
lonian city of the moon was Hnr, as appears from the 
brick-inscriptions found on the ruins of Umgheir or Mug- 
heir, situated on the ancient site of Hur, on the right 
bank of the Euphrates. The Ur of the Chaldees therefore 
is identical with the Babylonian Hur, the Camarina of 
Eupolemus, and the present Mugheir or Umgheir. But 
there are other reasons besides this identity of name and 
of worship that point to Mugheir as the Ur of the Chaldees. 
The inscriptions distinguish between " mat Assur" (Assyria), 
"mat Aram" (northern and western Aramaea), "mat Chat- 
ti " (the region of the Ilittites), "mat Acharri" (the land 
of the Chanaanites), "mat Babilu" (Babylonia), and "mat 
Kaldu" (land of the- Chaldees). Now this last country is 
generally placed south of Babylon, as all grant. Hence 
" Ur of the Chaldees" cannot be identified with Edessa 
or the above-mentioned castle (cf. Schrader, K. A. T., 2d ed. 
1883, pp. 129 if.). It follows from the existence of the 
great temple of the moon in Umgheir (cf. Jos. xxiv. 2), 
from its early social and political importance, and from the 
name Hur, which is, letter for letter, the Hebrew ^N s , that 
Mugheir, and not Warka, was the dwelling place of Abra- 
ham's ancestors. Finally, it seems entirely improbable 
that Warka, which is known in Genesis as Erech, should in 
the passages referring to the patriarch be named Ur. The 
exception that on our supposition Abraham would have 
had to cross the Euphrates twice in his migration is of 
little importance, because the patriarch, being a herdsman, 
naturally followed the path in which he found good pas- 
ture for his flocks. 

2. Haran, probably the elder brother of Abram, was al- 
ready dead at the time of the patriarch's leaving Ur; Nachor 
remained behind. Hence, when Thare, too, had died in 
Haran, Abram became the head of the family, and now re- 


ceived his second call. Obedient to his call, be crossed the 
Euphrates near Zeugma (some writers consider this call of 
Abram identical with that given in Ur of the Chaldees, 
translating the verb in the beginning of ch. xii., "and the 
Lord had said to Abram") and entered the land of Cha- 
naan by the valley of the Jabbok; he crossed at once into 
the rich valley of Moreh, near Sichem, where he received 
a distinct promise of his future inheritance (Gen. xii. 7) 
and built his first altar to God. Owing, as it appears, to 
the presence of the Chanaanite in the land, Abram made 
his resting-place in the strong mountain country between 
Bethel and Hai. When there was a famine in the coun- 
try, he went down to Egypt, where his wealth increased 
considerably, so much so that, after his return, he and Lot 
had to separate. Abram was now enabled to take up his 
dwelling-place in the more convenient Mambre or Hebron. 
It was from this city that the patriarch went forth against 
Chodorlahomor and his companion-kings (Schrader, K. A. 
T., 2d ed. 1883, pp. 135 fT.), after they had captured his 
nephew together with the substance of the cities of the 
Plain. After this occurrence Melchisedech made his ap- 
pearance before Abram. 

3. It may not be out of place to look upon the divine 
promise which followed the events just related as beginning 
a new period in the patriarch's life. God appeared to 
Abram (c. xv.), promising him a son to be his heir. But 
the long Israelite captivity in Egypt is also predicted, and 
the temporal promise regarding the land of Chanaan is re- 
peated. In consequence of this, Abram takes Agar as con- 
cubine, and begets Ismael. 

4. The voice of God is now silent for fourteen years, 
during which period the patriarch seems to have remained 
at Mambre. At the end of this time God again appeared 
and made a solemn and everlasting covenant with Abram, 
whose name he now changes to Abraham. The numerous 
posterity which has been repeatedly promised is again for- 
told in c. xvii., but in c. xviii. a son is distinctly promised 


to Sarai, whose name had been previously changed to Sara. 
The patriarch pleads for the cities of the Plain, but their 
wickedness had reached its full measure; the towns are 
destroyed, only Lot with his family being saved. The 
promised son is born at last, but only after Abraham had 
moved towards the south country, into the territory of the 
Philistines. Agar with Ismael is now sent away. 

5. Twenty-five years (Jos. Autiq. I. xiii. 2) pass in peace 
and quiet, when God again appears to the patriarch, in 
order to subject him to the greatest trial of his life. Isaac 
is to be sacrificed, and in spite of all his natural repug- 
nance, the holy patriarch obeys the voice of God (c. xxii.). 
New promises more emphatic and comprehensive than the 
previous ones follow, and Abraham returns to Bersabee, 
his dwelling-place in the south country. He must have 
returned from here to Hebron, because Sara died at Kir- 
jath-Arbe, i.e., Hebron, where she was buried in the sepul- 
chral cave of Machpelah. Isaac is then married to Rebecca, 
and Abraham himself marries Cetura, whose children were, 
however, sent away, as Ismael had been banished. Finally, 
Abraham died at the age of 175 years, and was buried in 
the cave of Machpelah. 

6. Rebecca, who had at first been barren, now gave birth 
to twins, Esau and Jacob. The manner in which Esau 
sold his primogeniture to Jacob is too well known to need 
further description. A famine soon forced Isaac to go, like 
his father, to Gerara; God warned him not to proceed 
into the land of Egypt, and renewed at the same time the 
Messianic blessing which he had repeatedly imparted to 
Abraham (xxvi. 2 fi\). Finally, Jacob obtained his father's 
blessing fraudulently. 

7. Esau's wrath is stirred up on account of Jacob's 
fraud; he is determined to kill his brother after their 
father's death. Rebecca, therefore, sends Jacob with 
Isaac's consent to Haran, in order to marry a wife of his 
own race. On the way thither God appears to him in his 


vision of the mysterious ladder at Bethel, and repeats the 
patriarchal Messianic promises (Gen. xxviii. 14). 

2. Messianic Character of the Prophecies.— 1. Sacred 
Scripture supposes this in many passages: Gen. xlix. 10; 
Ps. ii. 8; xxi. (xxii.) 27-31; lxxi. (lxxii.) 8-11, 17, 19; 
xcv. (xcvi.) 3, 7-10; xcvii. (xcviii.) 2, 3; Is. ii. 2-4; ix. 
1-6; xi. 10; xlii. 1, 6, 7; xlix. G; Joel iii. 1, 2; Jer. iii. 17; 
Agg. ii. 7; Mai. i. 11; Zach. xiv. 1G-19; Gal. iii. 14; Acts 
iii. 25, 2G; xiii. 32; Luke i. 55, 73; Rom. iv. 1G, 18; Jo. 
iv. 22. 

2. The Fathers of the Church are unanimous in explain- 
ing the patriarchal promises as referring to the Messias 
(cf. Ileinke). 

3. The fulfilment of the prophecy warrants us in taking 
the promises as referring to Christ. 

4. The ancient Synagogue too explained the patriarchal 
promises as referring to the Messias. We have testimony 
of this in Ecclus. xliv. 22 (Vulg. 24,25); Onkelos too bears 
witness for us, since he translates the Divine promise: 
" they shall be blessed on account of thee and of thy sons/' 
Ps. Jonathan : " They shall be blessed through thy merit 
and the merit of thy sons." In Bemid. R. (sect. 2, fol. 
184, 4) there is a rather curious explanation of Gen. xxii. 
18: "God compares the Israelites to the dust. But what 
are its qualities ? If there were no dust, man could not 
exist; there would be neither trees nor fruits. In the 
same manner, if there were no Israelites, the world could 
not exist, as is written in Gen. xxii. 18 : And in thy seed 
shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. In this world 
(i.e., in the O.T.) God compares them to the dust; but at 
the time of the Messias they will be like the sand on the 
sea-shore. What is the quality of the sand ? It dulls the 
teeth. Thus will the Israelites at the time of the Messias 
grind up all the Gentiles, as it is written (Num. xxiv. 19): 
Out of Jacob shall he come that shall rule. And again 
Ezechiel says : And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by 
the hand of my people Israel. Another reason why the Is. 


melites are compared to the sand is this : If one throws a 
handful of sand into the dough or the food, no one can eat 
of it, because he would dull his teeth: thus it is with the 
Israelites. Whoever plunders or robs them dulls his teeth 
for the future world, as is written in Is. xxiv. 23. And the 
moon shall blush, and the sun shall be ashamed, when the 
Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Sion, and in Jerusalem, 
and shall be glorified in the sight of his ancients." 

Gen. xii. 1-9. 

And the 1 Lord said to Abram : "Go forth out of thy coun- 
try, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father's house, and 
come into the land which I shall show thee. And I will make of 
thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and magnify thy name, 
and thou shalt be blessed. And I will bless them that bless thee, 
and curse them that curse thee, and in thee shall all the 2 kindreds 
of the earth be blessed." 

1 The Lord said to Abraham. If we summarize the various prom- 
ises made to the patriarchs, we find that God grants them five dis- 
tinct blessings: 1. They shall have a numerous posterity; 2. they 
will always enjoy God's special protection ; 3. they are to possess 
the land of Chanaan for a long time; 4. they will be victorious over 
all their enemies ; 5. through them and through their seed blessing 
shall come to all the tribes of the earth. It is plain that the fifth 
promise is the one that concerns us above all ; the first four will be 
explained in so far only as they shed light on the last. 

In the fifth blessing there are again four special points that need 
explanation : 1. The subject of the blessing must be determined; 2. 
the precise meaning of the Hebrew phrase " shall be blessed " must 
be investigated; 3. the instrument through which the blessing is to 
descend on the nations of the earth must be described; 4. the blessing 
itself, its nature and purpose, must be accurately defined. 

* All the kindreds of the earth. 1. The extent of the blessing 
promised to Abraham and his seed is limited by some authors to the 
inhabitants of Chanaan. Bertholdt (De ortu theologiae veter.) follows 
the view of Amnion (Christologie), and upholds the limited extent of 
(ifod's blessing promised to the patriarchs : " Abrahamo, Isaaco et Ja- 
cobo facta erat a deo spes, fore ut reliquae gentes terrae Canaanis (Ha- 
adainah' ha-arez' goyey' mishpechoth) posterorum suorum potestati se 
subiicerent atque sic honores et beneficia populis foedere cum aliis 
iunctis ex vulgari consuetudine concessa in se conferrent." Baumgar- 
ten-Crusius (Biblioth. theolog. p. 368) modifies the above opinion ; he 
supposes that the descendants of Abraham will possess the whole 
earth, and that its inhabitants will be blessed by them, because they 
will be subject to their rule. 


So Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him, and Lot 
went with him : x\bram was seventy-five years old when he went 
forth from Haran. And he took Sarai his wife, and Lot his 
brother's son, and all the substance which they had gathered, and 
the souls which they had gotten in Haran, and they went out to 
go into the land of Chanaan. And when they were come into it, 
Abram passed through the country unto the place of Sichem, as 
far as the noble vale : now the Chanaanite was at that time in 
the land. And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him : 
"To thy seed will I give this land." And he built there an altar 
to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And passing on from 
thence to a mountain, that was on the east-side of Bethel, he 
there pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west and Hai on the 
east : he built there also an altar to the Lord, and called upon his 
name. And Abram went forward going, and proceeding on to 
the south. 

Gen. xvii. 1-9. 

And after he began to be ninety and nine years old, the Lord 
appeared to him, and he said unto him: " I am the Almighty God ; 

a. Deferring the answer to this opinion till we come to consider 
the nature of Abraham's blessing, we must here state that the re- 
striction of Erets and Adamah to the land of Chanaan, and of Goyim 
and Mishpechoth to the Chanaanites is entirely arbitrary, since no one 
of the parallel texts requires such a limitation; on the contrary, they 
tend to show that these comprehensive expressions must be received 
in their unrestricted signification, b. Besides, the Jewish tradition 
favors the unlimited meaning of the words in question, as is seen 
from all those passages in Scripture where the extension of the Mes- 
sianic salvation is announced to all the heathen nations. Bertholdt 
confesses that at the time of David and Solomon such an unlimited 
interpretation was the commonly received one, but he seeks to evade 
the evident inference by contending that such an interpretation pro- 
ceeded from an ignorance of " historical hermeneutics." c. Finally, 
it is not easy to see how God could have promised temporal blessing 
to all the Chanaanites through Abraham, since in Gen. xv. 18 it is ex- 
pressly promised that the descendants of Abraham are to possess the 
whole of Palestine and to have dominion over all its tribes. Even the 
sentence of extermination is plainly alluded to in the words that the 
iniquity of the Aniorrhites is not yet full (xv. 10). For the Amorrhites 
undoubtedly stand as a part for the whole. We must therefore con- 
clude that if Moses had intended to represent only the Chanaanites as 
the subjects of the promised blessing, he would have indicated such 
a limited meaning of Erets as he always does when the limitation is 
not altogether clear from the context. 


walk before me and be perfect. And I will make my covenant 
between me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly." 
Abram fell flat on his face. And God said to him : " I am, and 
my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many 
nations. Neither shall thy name be called any more Abram, but 
thou shalt be called Abraham, because I have made thee a father 
of many nations. And I will make thee increase exceedingly, 
and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and 
between thy seed after thee in their generation, by a perpetual 
covenant, to be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee. And I 
will give to thee and to thy seed the land of thy sojournment, all 
the land of Chanaan for a perpetual possession, and I will be their 

Gen. xviii. 17-19. 

And the Lord said, "Can I hide from Abraham what I am 
about to do, seeing he shall become a great and mighty nation, 
and in him all the nations of the earth 3 shall be blessed ? For I 

8 Shall be blessed. 2. The second point that needs investigation is 
the precise meaning of the phrase " shall be blessed." All the diffi- 
culty arises from the fact that in the Hebrew text the Niphal form, 
" nibrekhu" is used in Gen. xii. 3 ; xviii. 18 ; xxviii. 14, while the 
Hithpael form is employed in the other two parallel passages (Gen. 
xxii. 18 and xxvi. 4). Hence the question : must the phrase be trans- 
lated as if the verb were passive, which is the ordinary meaning of 
the Niphal, or must we translate it as a reflexive, which is the ordi- 
nary meaning of the Hithpael ? Authors who have considered this 
question give as many different answers as can be reasonably sup- 

A. The first class of commentators contends that the Hithpael in 
the two parallel passages has a passive not a reflexive meaning. 
This interpretation is defended by such authorities as Patrizi, Jahn, 
Bade, de Wette, von Bohlen, Lamy. The last-named writer gives 
the following reasons for his opinion : a. Hithpael is always a passive 
form in Syriac. b. Hithbarekhu is translated as a passive in Is. lxv. 
1G and Ps. lxxi. (lxxii.) 17. c. The Septuagint, the Vulgate, the 
Syriac version, the paraphrase of Onkelos, translate " Hithbarekhu " 
of the two passages here in question as a passive. 

Still, it must be noted that the Hithpael of the verb " barakh " 
occurs only six times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament : in 
the two passages above mentioned, in the two passages cited by 
Lamy, in Deut. xxix. 18, and in Jer. iv. 2. The last passage reads 
according to the Hebrew text : "The nations shall bless themselves 
in him, and in him shall they glory." The reflexive meaning seems 
to be required in the context. As to Deut. xxix. 18 (Vulg. 19), 


know that he will command his children and his household after 
him to keep the way of the Lord, and do judgment and justice, 

the reflexive meaning is still more clearly required : " And it 
came to pass, when he heareth the words of this oath, that he 
bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk 
in the stubbornness of my heart." The passive meaning is here 
evidently excluded by the context. The passage from Is. Ixv. 16, 
which Lauvy translates as having the verb in the passive voice, is 
equally well rendered with the verb in the reflexive sense, the ordi 
nary signification of Hithpael : ''So that he who blesseth himself in 
the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth." Unless weighty 
reasons can be advanced for understanding the Hithpael in the pas- 
sive sense in this passage, its ordinary signification should not be 
abandoned. The verse cited by Lamy from Ps. lxxi. (lxxii.) 17 
seems at first to require an active rather than a reflexive verb, But 
the active meaning of the verb " Yithbarekhu" is excluded by the 
preposition which follows it. Hence the reflexive signification of the 
verb, "men shall bless themselves in him," is at least as proper as 
the passive, " men shall be blessed in him." Keeping in mind then 
this result of our investigation concerning the Hithpael of " barakh," 
it is antecedently probable that the two passages in the present 
prophecy have a reflexive rather than a passive meaning. Indeed, 
the passive meaning of the Hithpael in question seems to be a mere 
Aramaic idiom. 

B. Another class of commentators has therefore thought fit to 
translate not only the Hithpael of "barakh "in the two prophetic 
passages as reflexive, but also the Niphal in their three parallel 
verbs. This interpretation is found in the works of writers like 
Delitzsch, Gesenius, De Wette (latterly), Ewald, Knobel, Dillmann, 
and others of no small authority. Their reasons are especially 
the following two: a. The Hithpael of "barakh" has a reflexive 
meaning in the passages parallel to our prophecy. But the parallel- 
ism is so minute that the voice of the verb cannot be changed. Hence 
the Niphal in our three prophetic passages must have its primitive 
reflexive meaning, b. Again, there is another form of the verb 
" barakh," which has certainly the passive sense ; for its Pual occurs 
in this signification in Num. xxii. 6 and Ps. xxxvi. (xxxvii.) 22. 
Hence we must suppose that the Niphal of "barakh" retains its 
original reflexive meaning. The argument for the passive meaning 
taken from the LXX. is said to prove nothing, and in confirmation of 
this we are directed to Ecclus. xliv. 21. 

But if we weigh the arguments brought for the reflexive meaning 
of the Niphal we must confess that they are not conclusive, a. The 
second one, for instance, may be easily retorted in this way : The re- 
flexive meaning of the verb " barakh" is expressed by the Hithpael, 
as all the six passages prove which have been quoted in the preced- 
ing paragraph. Hence, the Niphal of the verb which occurs in our 
prophecy must have its ordinary passive meaning, b. Again, as to 
the parallelism, it is generally acknowledged that parallel members 
do not necessarily express their similar ideas in precisely the same 
manner. Hence, this alone cannot be advanced as an argument for 
the reflexive rather than the passive meaning of a verb. 


that for Abraham's sake the Lord may bring to effect all the 
things he hath spoken unto him." 

Gen. xxii. 16-18. 

By my own self have I sworn, saith the Lord, because thou 
hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only-begotten son 
for my sake : I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the 
stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea-shore, thy seed 
shall possess the gates of their enemies, and in thy seed shall all 
the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my 

Gen. xxvi. 1-5. 

And when a famine came in the land, after that barrenness 
which had happened in the days of Abraham, Isaac went to 
Abimelech, king of the Palestines, to Gerara. And the Lord ap- 
peared to him, and said: u Go not down into Egypt, but stay in the 
land that I shall tell thee, and sojourn in it, and I will be with 
thee, and will bless thee, for to thee and to thy seed I will give all 
these countries, to fulfil the oath which I swore to Abraham thy 
father. And I will multiply thy seed like the stars of heaven, 
and I will give to thy posterity all these countries, and in thy 4 

C. The advocates of a third interpretation contend that the Niphal 
of " barakh " should be taken in its ordinary passive meaning, and 
the Hithpael of the same verb in its reflexive signification. The 
commentators who adhere to this opinion are Hengstenberg, Reinke, 
Corluy, Kimclii, A ben -Ezra, and others, a. The reasons given by 
these authors are for the most part those which are advanced by the 
commentators who hold either of the two preceding opinions, b. 
Besides, the ordinary meaning of the Niphal and the Hithpael forms 
is kept intact, so that no further explanation for either acceptation is 

4 In thee — In him — In thy seed. 3. In the third place the instru- 
ment through which the blessing is to come to the human race must 
be determined. The words of Scripture describe the instrument by 
the words "in thee" (xii. 3), "in him " (xviii. 18), "in thy seed" 
(xxii. 17), "in thy seed" (xxvi. 4), "in thee and thy seed" (xxviii. 
14). But before we speak of the real meaning of these phrases, we 
must reject two interpretations of them which do not express the full 
sense of the promise. 

a. Eckermann (Theolog. Beifcr. ii. 3, p. 40), Le Clerc, Jarchi, and 
otljer Jewish commentators translate the Hebrew preposition by 
" as" instead of " in." Le Clerc explains the interpretation thus: The 
blessings of most oriental people will be contained in the following 
words: "May God bless thee as he has blessed Abraham." Hence 


seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because Abra- 
ham obeyed my voice, and kept my precepts and commandments, 
and observed my ceremonies and laws." 

the whole passage now under consideration ought to be translated : 
" All the nations of the earth will greet or bless each other : Prosper 
as Abraham." The fault of this interpretation is evident even from 
the fact that the Hithpael of " barakh " does not mean " to wish one 
another prosperity," but " to regard one's self as blessed or happy, 
to promise one's self prosperity." 

b. Another interpretation of the passage which also supposes that 
the preposition must be rendered by "as " instead of " in " is given 
by St. Chrysostom, Theophylactus, (Ecumenius, St. Augustine. They 
translate : " All the nations shall be blessed as thou art blessed." It 
is true that the Hebrew preposition used in this passage is rendered 
in the sense of "as" in Ps. xliv. 4 ; xxxvii. 20 ; cxii. 4 ; Os. x. 15 ; 
but this meaning of the preposition has seemed so unnatural to the 
Massoretic writers that they have adopted a different reading in 
three of the passages cited. Besides, the Messianic sense of the pas- 
sage in question is destroyed by such a rendering, while it agrees 
most beautifully with the common meaning of the Hebrew preposi- 

c. Others again sin by excess, because they take the Hebrew prep- 
osition ^ as signifying "through," "on account of," "through the 
merits of." It is safer to regard the preposition as indicating instru- 
mentality in general, without determining the nature of the mediator- 
ship. Or, if a definite way must be determined, " in thee " according 
to Scripture language means "in as far as thou representest thy 
offspring " (cf. Gen. ix. 1 ; xii. 2 ; xvii. 2 ; xviii. 18 ; xxvi. 3). 

d. The clause " in thy seed," contained in the promise given to the 
patriarchs, is explained in different ways : 1. The seed is Christ 
alone (Bade, etc.) Beasons : a. Ps. Ixxi. (lxxii.) 17 ; Luke i. 73, 72 ; 
Jo. viii. 56; Acts iii. 24-26; iv. 11; Gal. iii. 6-0, 14-16; /J. The 
translation of the Chaldee paraphrase thus limits the meaning of 
seed; y. The Jews have excluded themselves from the participation 
in the Messianic blessing, and can therefore be in no way said to 
have been instrumental in procuring the same to others. 2. Other 
authors are of opinion that the patriarchal seed in which all nations 
will be blessed includes Christ and all the faithful Israelites (Corluy, 
Hengst , Beinke). The other descendants of the patriarchs are ex- 
cluded by Bom. iv. 12 (cf. Gal. iii. 7; Bom. ix. 6-10). Beasons : a. 
In Gen. xxii. 17 the seed must certainly be taken collectively ; there- 
fore also in the following verse (cf. Gen. xxvi. 4 and xxviii. 14. fi. 
Jo. iv. 22, salvation is said to come from the Jews ; y. Bom. xi. 17, 
18, 24, considers the wild olive branches in the same light ; 8, Is. ii. 
3, the law will go out from Sion and the word of the Lord from Jeru- 
salem ; e. The apostles and the first Christians were chosen from 
among the Jews ; cf. Acts xiii.46 ; Bom. iii. 2 ; £. The Chaldee para- 
phrase always speaks of "thy sons." 

It is only the Latin translation of the paraphrase that has the sin- 
gular number in this text, and has thus giventhe patrons of the 
above view an apparent argument for their position. As to the Jews, 


Gen. xxviii. 10-15. 

But Jacob being departed from Bersabee, went on to Haran. 
And when he was come to a certain place, and would rest in it 
after sunset, he took of the stones that lay there, and putting 
under his head, slept in the same place. And he saw in his sleep 
a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching 
heaven, the angels also of God ascending and descending by it, 
and the Lord leaning upon the ladder saying to him: " I am the 
Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac : the land 
wherein thou sleepest I will give to thee and to thy seed. And 
thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth: thou shalt spread abroad 
to the west and to the east, and to the north, and to the south, 
and in thee and thy seed all B the tribes of the earth shall be blessed. 
And I will be thy keeper whither soever thou goest, and will 
bring thee back into this land: neither will I leave thee till I shall 
have accomplished all that I have said. " 

only the unfaithful ones have excluded themselves from the Messi- 
anic blessing. St. Paul in Gal. iii. 6-9 and 14-16 argues from the 
mystical body of Christ, which includes all the faithful (cf. Gal. iii. 
29). Ps. lxxi. (Ixxii.) 17; Jo. viii. 56; Acts iii. 25, 26 and iv. 11 
treat of the primary and principal source of the Messianic blessing, 
but not of the adequate source. The oath mentioned in Luke i. 72, 
73 has been fulfilled because the seed of the patriarchs has become 
a source of blessing through the merits of Christ. 

5 Shall be blessed. 4. In the fourth place, we must investigate the 
nature of the blessing which has come to all the nations of the earth 
through the seed of tne patriarchs. The full meaning intended by 
the Holy Ghoct may bo gathered from divers texts of the New Tes- 
tament : He promises the incarnation of the Son of God (Jo. iii. 16) ; 
the death of Christ (Rom. v. 6-10) ; the remission of sins (Luke xxiv.' 
47 ; I. Jo. ii. 12) ; all the riches of grace (Eph. i. 3, 6) ; the adoptive 
sonship of God (Jo. i. 12 ; Lorn. viii. 15-17) ; the indwelling of the 
Holy Ghost (Rom. v. 5 ; viii. 15, 16, 26 ; I. Cor. iii. 16) ; the right 
to a heavenly inheritance (Rom. viii. 17) ; a participation of the 
divine nature which was to begin in this life (II. Pet. i. 4) ; the beati- 
fic vision, life eternal, etc. (I. Cor. xiii. 12; Horn. vi. 22; viii. 19-23 ; 
I. Jo. iii. 2). Though the Holy Ghost intended all these blessings in 
the prophecies, it does not follow that all had to be understood at 



1. Patriarchal Hope. — As to the nature of the Messianic 
salvation which the patriarchs must have inferred from 
these promises, we may safely hold that: a. They must 
have understood the promises of spiritual blessings, because 
they were represented as a reward of Abraham's faith and 
obedience; God himself mentions the preservation of the 
true religious worship as one particular blessing (Gen. 
xviii. 19), and the emphasis which he lays on the promises 
would hardly be justified if they referred to natural bless- 
ings alone, b. When, how, and through which particular 
members of their offspring these blessings would be realized, 
and to which particular nations they were to extend, and 
finally in how far the offspring of the patriarchs would be 
instrumental in the blessing of the nations, — all these points 
were so many mysteries for the recipients of the prophetic 
promises, unless their minds were especially enlightened 
(cf. Jo. viii. 55 f.). 

2. Relation of the Patriarchs to the Prophecies.— It 
is of interest to consider the different relations which the 
three patriarchs hold in regard to this prophetic series. 
Abraham is promised twice that in him and once that in 
7iis seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed ; Isaac 
obtains the promise that in his seed the national blessing 
will be given to the world ; Jacob finally is promised that 
in him and in his seed the same blessing will be given. 
Cajetan draws attention to the fact that while Abraham 
and Jacob figure personally as mediators of the blessing, in 
Isaac's case only his seed is mentioned as the medium. 
The reason given for this difference of relation is sought 
by the same theologian in the fact that Abraham is the 
father of faith, Jacob is the father of the chosen people, 
while Isaac is father of Esau too, in whom we may see the 
representative of the future schisms. 

Whatever truth there may be in this reasoning, it is cer- 


tain that Isaac holds a peculiar position in Jewish legends. 
He is represented as an angel made before the world (Orig. 
in Jo. ii. 25) ; as one of the three men in whom human sin- 
fulness has no place, and as one of the six over whom the 
angel of death has no power (Eisenmenger, Entd. Jud. i. 
343, 864). He is said to have been instructed in divine 
knowledge by Sem (Jarchi, Gen. xxv.), and evening prayer 
is connected with him (Gen. xxiv. 63), as morning prayer 
with Abraham (Gen. xix. 27) and night prayer with Jacob 
(Gen. xxviii. 11; Eisenmenger, Entd. Jud. i. 473). 

The Arabian traditions too preserved in the Koran rep- 
resent Isaac as a model of religion, as a just man inspired 
by grace to do many good works, as a man of prayer and 
of almsgiving (c. xxi.), as endowed with the divine gifts of 
prophecy, of children and of wealth (c. xix.). Isaac's 
promise and offering are also mentioned (c. xi.. 38). 

The following may serve as models of several fanciful 
representations assigned to the patriarchs by some modern 
writers. A. Jukes (Types of Gen.) regards Adam as rep- 
resenting human nature; Cain is the type of the carnal 
mind, Abel of the spiritual, Noe of regeneration, Abra- 
ham of faith, Isaac of sonshi] - ), Jacob of service, Joseph of 
suffering or glory. Ewald (Gesch. i. 387-400) views the 
whole patriarchal family as a typical group of twelve mem- 
bers, a. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are three fathers, rep- 
resenting active power, quiet enjoyment, success after 
struggles; they may be compared to Agamemnon, Achilles, 
and Ulysses among the Greeks, to Anchises, iEneas, and 
Ascanius among the Trojans, and to Eomulus, Remus, and 
Numa among the Romans; b. Sara and Agar represent the 
mother and mistress of the household; c. Isaac represents 
the child ; d. Isaac with Rebecca typifies wedlock ; e. Lia 
and Rachel show the plurality of coequal wives; /. 
Debbora is the nurse (cf. Anna and Caieta, yEn. iv. 654; vii. 
1). g. Eliezer represents the steward whose office is com- 
pared with that of the messenger of the Olympic deities. 

Placing these theories among the works of fancy, where 


they belong, we must finally state the typical character 
given to the patriarchal history from the earliest times of 
ecclesiastical literature. It is true that the typical charac- 
ter of Isaac is barely referred to in the New Testament ; 
but Philo and all the interpreters who are influenced by the 
Alexandrian philosophy draw out the typical view with 
minute particularity. Passing over these brilliant rather 
than solid explanations, we find that Clement of Rome 
(c. 31) sees in Isaac an example of faith in God; Tertullian, 
pattern of monogamy and of Christ bearing the cross; 
Clement of Alexandria finds allegorical meanings in Isaac's 
dealings with Abimelech and in his intended immolation; 
Origen, Augustine, and Christian interpreters generally 
explain Isaac's immolation as representing Christ's death 
on the cross; Rhabanus Maurus has drawn out this figure 
in all its particulars. 




1. Time and Occasion of the Prophecy.— In the first 
month of the fortieth year after their leaving Egypt, the 
Israelites encamped for the second time in Cades (Num. 
xx.). Here Mary, the sister of Moses, died; here too the 
people again murmured against the Lord by reason of a 
want of water, and here Moses and Aaron committed the 
sin of diffidence in the help of God. Since Moses knew 
that they could hardly expect to enter Palestine from the 
south side on account of the strongly fortified towns, he 
led the people around towards the east, sending messengers 
from Cades to the kings of Edom and Moab, in order to 
obtain a free passage through their territories. Permission 
being refused, the territories of these princes had to be 
avoided, and thus it was that Israel came to Mount Hor. 
Here Aaron died; then King Arad (Num. xxi.), who had 
at first gained some advantages over Israel, was vanquished; 
but on their way south, which had to be taken in order to 
pass around Edom, the Israelites again murmured and 
were punished by the fiery serpents. Finally, the people 
advanced along the eastern boarder of Edom northward, 
till they reached the Arnon. When Sehon, king of the 
Amorrhitcs, refused them a free passage through his ter- 
ritory to the Jordan, they conquered his whole kingdom 
from the Anion to the Jeboc; then Og, the king of Basan, 
was put to death, and his kingdom with its sixty fortified 
cities taken. Next the Israelites turned again southward, 


and encamped in the fields of Moab, across Jordan, oppo- 
site Jericho (Num. xxii. 1 ff.). 

Balac, the king of Moab, was frightened, made an alli- 
ance with the Madianites, and being not yet confident 
enough in their combined forces, Balac sent to Balaam, the 
son of Beor, who lived in the land of the Ammonites, re- 
questing him to come and curse Israel. After the well- 
known remonstrances on the part of God, the appearance 
of the angel, and the talking of Balaam's ass, the sooth- 
sayer finally reaches the camp of Balac, where he is re- 
ceived with all possible splendor. First the prophet is led 
to the Baal heights (Num. xxii. 41; xxiii.), on the eastern 
part of Mount Abarim, where he repeats the blessing of 
Abraham in spite of the seven altars and the seven burnt- 
offerings prepared by Balac. Balaam is now made to 
ascend the summit of Phasga (Num. xxiii. 13 ff.), where 
he repeats, in spite of the same bountiful sacrifices, the 
blessing of Juda and the covenant blessing of Horeb. 
The third time Balac and Balaam ascend Phogor (Num. 
xxiii. 27 ff.), where the prophet repeats the combined 
blessings of Abraham and Jacob. Finally, before leaving 
Balac, Balaam informs him of the future of Israel (Num. 
xxiv. 14 ff.). They shall triumph over Edom and Moab; 
then the fate of the Amalecites (1. c. 20), the Cinites (1. c. 
21, 22), and the Assyrians (1. c. 23, 24) is announced. 

2. Character of the Prophet. — No doubt Balaam 
was a Gentile soothsayer, who had, however, become ac- 
quainted with the history of Israel and with their true God, 
Jehovah, to whom he had consecrated himself. The mo- 
tives of his service may have been like the motives of 
Simon Magus, since he seems to have been under the sway 
of avarice in the latter course of his history. He must 
have known the truth concerning the immortality of the 
soul and the future retribution; why else should behave 
prayed : " Let my soul die the deatli of the just, and my 
last end be like to them "? (Num. xxiii. 10.) After being 
dismissed by Balac, Balaam may have gone over to Moses 


in order to reveal to him the prophecies enounced with the 
view of obtaining from the Hebrews the rich rewards 
which he had lost at the court of the Moabite king. Not 
obtaining what he desired he gave the wicked advice to 
the Madianites of enticing the Hebrews into sin, and thus 
rendering them odious to Jehovah (cf. Num. xxxi. 8, 16; 
xxvi. 1-3; Apoc. ii. 14). He was slain among the Madian- 
ites by the avenging hands of Hebrews. 

3. Authorship of the Prophecy.— It is not certain, as 
Driver says (Introduction to the Literature of the Old, 
Testament, 1892, p. 62), whether Num. xxiii. and xxiv. be- 
long to J or E, or whether they are the work of the com- 
piler, who has made use of both sources. Critics differ, the 
author continues, and it is wise to leave the question unde- 
termined. Delitzsch (Messianic Prophecies in Historical 
Succession, translated by S. I. Curtiss, New York, 1891, 
p. 65) is a little more determined: "We admit that the 
narrative, as it lies before us, is combined out of several 
sources that may be clearly distinguished, and that 
the historical element, as it survived in the 'sage/ 
has been reproduced, not without literary co-operation, 
but without doubting the fact that the heathen sorcerer, 
contrary to his natural disposition, became a prophet 
of Yah well, and that he received an insight into the 
future of Israel, whose significance only has its counter- 
part in the second part of the Book of Zechariah 
and the Book of Daniel." Provided the Mosaic and 
inspired authorship of the prophecy in its present form 
is saved, we may grant any manner of composition. 

4. Unchristian Applications of the Prophecy.— a. 
Verslmir (Bibliotheca Brem. nova class, iii. 1, pp.1-80) denies 
the relation of Balaam's prophecy to the Messias in any 
sense, and regards it as applying alike to David, John Hyr- 
canus, and Alexander Jannaeus. The seventeenth verse he 
refers to the first two, the nineteenth verse to the last. i. 
Michaelis and Dathe too have denied the Messianic char- 
acter of the prophecy, applying it to David alone, c. De 


Wette endeavors to prove from this prophecy the fictitious 
nature of the whole story and the spuriousness of the 

5. Messianic Character of Balaam's Prophecy.— 1. 
Jewish tradition looks upon the passage as Messianic. The 
Targum Onkelos reads : " When a mighty king of Jacob's 
house will reign, and the Messias will be magnified." The 
Targum Jonathan has a similar paraphrase: " When there 
shall reign a strong king of the house of Jacob, and the 
Messias shall be anointed, and a strong sceptre shall come 
from Israel. . . ." Rabbi Simeon, the son of Yochai, taught: 
" Rabbi Akiba, my teacher, explained : There shall come a 
star of Jacob, Cosiba comes of Jacob; for when he saw 
Bar Cosiba, he exclaimed : This is the Messias " (cf. Je- 
rusalem Taanith, fol. G8, col. 4). A similar testimony is 
found in Debarim Rabba (sec. 1): " The Israelites said to 
God: How long shall we be in bondage? He replied: 
Till the day comes of which it is said: There shall come a 
star out of Jacob." In the Pesikta Sotarta (fol. 58, col. 1) 
we read: "Our Rabbis have a tradition that in the week 
in which the Messias will be born there will be a bright 
star in the east, which is the star of the Messias." In 
Shemoth Rabba (sect. 30, fol. 129, 1) we read the follow- 
ing passage : " Parable of a man avIio went into a strange 
country and heard that a public trial was to be held. He 
asked a great talker when the trial would be held. His 
answer was: It is still far off. The man asked another the 
same question, and the answer was: It will take place very 
soon. The man said : I have asked the great talker, and 
he said it would not take place for some time. The other 
answered: You know that he is a talker, and do you think 
that he would like the trial to take place soon, not know- 
ing whether his own case will be tried, and he will be con- 
demned ? Thus the Israelites asked Balaam : When will 
the redemption come? He answered (Num. xxiv. 17): I 
shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not 
near. The Holy Blessed God said: Do you not know that 


Balaam will go down into hell, and that he would prefer 
my salvation should not come?" Bechai (fol. 180, 4) 
reads : " I shall see him, but not now, must be understood 
of David; I shall behold him, but not near, of the king 
Messias; a star shall rise out of Jacob, of David ; a scep- 
tre shall spring up from Israel, of king Messias; and shall 
strike the chiefs of Moab, of David (III. Kings viii. 2); 
and shall waste all the children of Seth, of the Messias 
(Ps. lxxii. 18); he shall possess Idumea, of David (III. Kings 
viii. 14); but Israel shall do manfully, of the Messias 
(Abdias, 21)." Another testimony we find in Pesikta So- 
tarta (fol. 58, 2) : " At that time they shall blow a great 
trumpet, and then shall be fulfilled what is written, Num. 
xxiv. 17 : A star shall rise out of Jacob." Sohar chadasch 
(fol. 44, 2) reads thus: "I shall see him, refers to the re- 
demption which will be the fourth ; but not now, but in 
the latter days. The world has six days. On the fourth, 
the heavenly lights shall be taken away and cease, i.e., the 
sun, the moon, and the stars shall be hidden on that day, as 
they were in the creation." It may be noticed in passing 
that the Messianic times are here placed into the fourth 
millennium, or after the first three thousand years. The 
Sohar (Num. fol. 85, col. 340) has the following remarks 
about Num. xxiv. 17: " God has decreed to build up Jeru- 
salem, and to show a star which shines besides seventy 
other stars, and out of which proceed seventy satellites, 
and seventy other stars will be taken with the same. This 
star is the Messias; his satellites are the apostles and the 
dignitaries of the Church." A little later the same book 
continues : " At the time of the star's appearance, the 
earth will tremble for forty-five miles around the place 
where the Temple is standing. And there shall be opened 
a cavern under the ground out of which shall come forth a 
fire that will set the earth on fire. The heavenly bird too 
will come forth out of the cavern, to whom empire is given, 
and the nations of the earth will be gathered under his 
sway. And the king Messias will appear in the whole 


world, and will take vengeance on the Edomites, and set 
the land of Seir on fire." See also Sohar, fol. 58, 1 ; fol. 
44, 4; Tikkune Sohar, c. 37; Pesikta Sotarta, fol. 58, 1; 
Pesikta Rabbathi, fol. 20, 4. 

2. The Messianic character of the prophecy uttered by- 
Balaam may be also recognized from the very context of 
the passage. For according to the verse immediately pre- 
ceding the prophecy, Balaam expressly says that it regards 
the "latter days." Now this phrase "latter days" is gen- 
erally used of the Messianic times; (cf. Gen. xlix. 1; Deut. 
iv. 30; Jer. xlviii. 47; Is. ii. 2, etc.). 

3. Then again the contents of the prophecy point to the 
Messianic fulfilment, a. The victories of David, no doubt, 
were a partial fulfilment of Balaam's prediction, and the 
language in which they are reported seems to point out 
their reference to the present prophecy (cf. II. Kings viii. 
2,13,14; III. Kings xi. 15,1; Ps.lix. (lx.) 8.) On the other 
hand, David's victories do not exhaust Balaam's predictions, 
since they do not amount to a permanent conquest of 
Moab and Edom. 

b. The Moabite stone informs us that the Moabites were 
again subdued by Omri, and kept in subjection for forty 
years. Then followed the successful revolt of Mesha (IV. 
Kings i. 1; iii. 4, 5), the new victory over the Moabites by 
Joram (IV. Kings iii. 21), their offensive war against Juda 
in the reign of Joas (IV". Kings xiii. 20), and their final 
subjection by John Hyrcanus, B.C. 129. 

c. As to the Edomites, they revolted under Solomon (III. 
Kings xi. 14), and more successfully under Joram (IV. 
Kings viii. 20), were defeated under Amasias (IV. Kings 
xiv. 7), and again under Ozias (IV. Kings xiv. 22), but 
not completely subjugated, so that in the reign of Achaz 
they invaded Juda (II. Paral. xxviii. 17). 

d. Accordingly, we find that the prophets who lived cen- 
turies after David took up his prophecies concerning the 
Moabites and the Edomites, thus showing evidently that 
they had not been accomplished in the time of David. As 


to Moab, see Is. xv. ; xvi. 1-5; xxv. 20 ft'.; Amos ii. 1; So- 
pbon. ii. 8 ft. ; as to Edom, see Is. xxxiv. 5 ft.; lxiii. 1-G; 
Jer. xlix. 7 ft.; Lam. iv. 21, 22; Ezech. xxv. 12; Amos ix. 
11, 12; Abdias, 17 ft.; both nations are referred to in Is. 
xi. 14. 

e. If it is evident that the prophecy has not been fully 
accomplished by any of the Jewish kings, it is also certain 
that the Moabites and the Edomites are common types in 
the prophetic writings signifying in general all the enemies 
of the kingdom of God, as they were the bitterest foes of 
the theocracy. Thus it is plain that the final overthrow of 
all those who oppose the kingdom of God is predicted by 
the prophet, and this final defeat is to be inflicted by the 
star that shall rise out of Jacob, and by the ruler who shall 
come out of Israel. 

4. The fact that the last Jewish rebel who rose in the 
reign of Hadrian took the name Bar-cochab, i.e., Son of a 
star, proves the two propositions laid down in the preced- 
ing number: that the Jews of that period regarded the 
present prophecy as still unfulfilled, though Moab had long 
before vanished from history, and that the actual accom- 
plishment of the prediction was expected in Messianic 
times. Hence when Bar-cochab proved to be a failure, the 
disappointed Jews called him Bar-coziba, i.e., Son of a false- 
hood. Why should the false Messias have been called thus 
in reference to his former name Bar-cochab if this had not 
been regarded as the name of the true Messias ? 

5. If it be urged against us that Balaam could not have 
understood his prophecy, we may freely grant this prem- 
ise, but we deny the inference drawn from it. Prophets 
do not necessarily understand the full import of their 
prophetic predictions (cf. I. Pet. i. 11); and if this be true 
of the good and faithful prophets of the Lord, why could 
it not happen in the case of a Gentile whose heart was 
perverted, and whose dominant passion seems to have been 
that of the traitor apostle Judas ? 

G. Finally, the Fathers of the Church and Christian tra- 


dition have never given any other than a Messianic inter- 
pretation to Balaam's prophecy (cf. Tubing. Quartalsch., 
1844, p. 474; 1860, p. 054; 1872, p. 025 if.; Heinke, Bei- 
triige, vol. 4). 

Num. xxiv. 15-19. 

Balaam l the son of Beor hath said, 

The man whose eye is stopped up 2 hath said, 

The hearer of the words of God hath said, 

Who knoweth the doctrine of the highest 

And seeth the visions of the Almighty, 

"Who 3 falling hath his eyes opened. 

I shall see him, but not now, 

I shall behold him, but not near. 

A * star shall rise out of Jacob, 

1 Metre. Both Bickell and Gietmann agree that the present pas- 
sage belongs to the heptasyllabic kind of verse ; the movement is 

' Stopped up. The Hebrew word thus rendered occurs only here 
and in the parallel passage (Num. xxiv. 3), and hence it has been 
variously interpreted. 1. Gesenius, De Wette, Hupfeld, Keil, Hengs- 
tenberg, etc., translate the word as the Vulgate does by " closed " or 
"stopped up." If this rendering be accepted, there is again a two- 
fold way of explaining the word : a. Balaam's eyes were closed, as far 
as the correction of his error was concerned (Kliaban. Maur.) ; b. Ba- 
laam's bodily eyes were closed, because, being in the ecstatic state, he 
was bereft of the use of his senses (a Lapide, Trochon, etc.). 2. The 
LXX., Saad, Maurer, Fl'irst, Wogue, Knobel, etc., translate the phrase 
"the man whose eyes are open." They appeal especially to the 
Mishna (Abod. Sar. c. v.), where the verb used in the present passage 
signifies the unstopping of a wine-jar. They thus put an antithesis 
between Balaam's being in a trance and having his eyes open. The 
former rendering is much better suited to the context, and is also sup- 
ported by better authority. 

3 Who falling. The falling mentioned in this passage seems to 
have been the condition under which the inward opening of Balaam's 
eyes took place. It indicates rather the force of the divine revela- 
tion overpowering the seer than his vision of the divine glory (cf. 
Dan. viii. 17 ; Apoc. i. 17). We find hardly any instance of such a 
falling in the case of God's faithful prophets ; in the case of St. Paul 
and of Balaam it shows that God's word had to overcome a stubborn 
human will. 

4 A star. Explanations: 1. The star which appeared at the birth 
of Christ is foretold (Orig. c. Celsum, i. 12, 2). This is hardly proba- 
ble, since that star did not "rise out of Jacob ;" nor does St. Matthew, 
who carefully collects the Messianic fulfilments in his gospel, apply 


And a sceptre shall spring up from Israel, 

And shall strike the chiefs of Moab, 

And shall waste all the children * of Seth. 

And he shall possess 6 Idumea, 

The inheritance of Seir shall come to their enemies, 

But Israel shall do manfully. 

the prophecy to that event. 2. The star is the figure of a mighty 
king. Reasons : a. The star has served among all nations as the 
symbol of regal power and dignity (Virg., Eclog. ix. 47 ; Herat., Od. 
I. xii. 47 ; Justin, Histor. xxxvii. 2 ; Curtius, IX. vi. 8 ; Sueton. 
Ixxxviii. ; iEschyl., Again. 6; Is. xiv. 12; Dan. viii. 10; Apoc. i. 10, 
20 ; ii. 1 ; ix. 1). b. The idea was current among the Jews, since the 
false Messias appearing after Jesus was called Bar-cochab, i.e., son 
of a star. 

5 Children of Seth. Explanations : 1. Seth is a proper name (Vulg., 
LXX., and ancient versions generally), a. It refers to Seth, the son of 
Adam, so that children of Seth is equivalent to " all mankind." The 
passage thus understood is often explained : " he shall rule all man- 
kind " (Onkelos, Rashi, etc.). But "all mankind" is never called 
" the children of Seth, "though it may be called "the children of Adam 
or the children of Noe." Again, the king foretold will not destroy 
mankind, but save it ; or if the other explanation of ruling be pre- 
ferred, it must be kept in mind that the verb does not bear the sense 
" to rule." The passage in Jer. xlviii. 45 too demands another expla- 
nation, since that prophet evidently borrows from the present passage. 
b. Seth is the proper name of a Moabite prince (Winzer). This expla- 
nation is more satisfactory, but is based on a mere conjecture, c. Seth 
is connected with the Hebrew word " shaon " used in Jer. xlviii. 45, 
so that the children of "Seth" signifies "the children of noise," or 
"tumultuous ones" (Uesen., Keil, Fiirst, Maurer, Reinke, etc.). The 
term " tumultuous ones" is rightly considered to designate the Moa- 
bites (cf. Ex. xv. 15 ; Is. xv. 4 ; xvi. C). 3. The word Seth is con- 
nected with the Hebrew " shathah," so that the children of Seth are 
the children of the drunkard (Hiller, Hofmann, Kurtz). The drunk- 
ard to whom allusion is made is by these authors identified with Lot 
((ren. xix. 32), the progenitor of the Moabites. 4, The word Seth is 
connected with the Hebrew " sheeth," elevation, pride, so that we 
must translate "the children of boasting" (Zunz). The reference 
of Jeremias (xlviii. 45) to this passage seems to render the second 
opinion most probable, though Zunz too identifies the Moabites with 
the "sons of boasting." Another explanation will be mentioned 
later on. 

Idumea. Idumea is the country of Edom, or Esau ; the Edomites 
had refused free passage through their territory to the Israelites 
when the latter asked them for it through messengers sent from 
Cades. It is therefore just that Edom and Moab should incur the 
same punishment, as they had contracted the same guilt. Seir was 
the older name of the mountain land south of Moab 'and east of the 
Arabah, which the Edomites inhabited (Gen. xxxvi. 8 ; Deut. ii. 1, 


Out of Jacob shall he come that 7 shall rule, 
And shall destroy the 8 remains of the city. 

7 He that shall rule. This is the parallel term to the "sceptre" 
and the " star " which are foretold to spring forth from Jacob. By 
destroying the remains of the city, or him that remaineth of the city, 
the conqueror is described as hunting out the fugitives till he has cut 
off all of every place, after defeating his enemies in battle. 

8 Remains of the city. Prof. A. H. Sayce (Hebraica, Oct., 1887, 
pp. 3 fT.) is of opinion that the passage from " 1 shall see him" to 
"shall do manfully," etc., is an old Aniorrhite song of triumph 
adapted by Balaam to the successes of Israel. According to this 
theory, the same poem occurs at least four times in Scripture in 
slightly varied form. Its oldest form is preserved in Num. xxi. 28, 
while Jer. xlviii. 45, 46 and Am. ii. 2 follow Balaam's adaptation 
more closely. For the right understanding of the latter, a compari- 
son with the oldest form is of the greatest importance. It reads : "A 
lire is gone out of Ilesebon, a flame from the city of Sehon, and hath 
consumed Ar of the Moabites, and the inhabitants of the high places 
of the Anion." From this we see that Balaam has substituted Jacob 
and Israel for Ilesebon and the city of Sehon ; star and sceptre for 
lire and flame. The verb which Balaam uses after these lines, 
"strike," fits in with the sceptre only, not with the star, if it be 
taken literally. Hence we must interpret the star symbolically, as 
king or prince. The Hebrew word rendered " chiefs" is translated 
"temples" by Ewald and Sayce. The latter scholar suggests the 
reading qadqad instead of qarqar, so that we must translate " it has 
shattered the temples of Moab." 

This emendation suggests then another meaning for " the children 
of Seth ;" for this expression is now parallel to "the temples of 
Moab," as it replaces the original " inhabitants of the high places of 
the Arnon." Now the latter are the Moabites who worship in the 
high places of the Arnon ; the children of Seth must then be the 
same Moabite worshippers. From the analogy of Ben-Ammi or Am- 
monite in Gen. xix. 38 we infer then that Seth was a god as Amnion 
was, and this inference is verified by archaeological evidence, a. At 
the foot of the south-eastern angle of the Harem at Jerusalem, Sir C. 
Warren found, among other fragments of early pottery, two handles 
ornamented with a representation of the winged solar disk and in- 
scriptions in Phoenician letters of the pre-exilic period. One of these 
reads: "belonging to Melech-Tsiph," the other, "belonging to Me- 
lech-Sheth." The latter name means " Moloch is Sheth " according 
to the analogy of Malchiel, Malchiyah, Melchizedek. Hence Seth 
was not only a deity, but his worshippers have left their remains in 
the valley of the sons of Hinnom. b. Dr. Neubauer has pointed out 
that this well agrees with the fact that the antediluvian patriarch 
Seth was the father of Enosh, or man, as well as with the proper 
names Mephi-bosheth and lsh-bosheth (II. Kings ii. 8 ; I. Par. viii. 
33), in which Bosheth is a contraction for Ben-Sheth, as Bedad has 
been formed out of Bendad. c. The same inference is confirmed by 
the meaning of Bosheth, " shame ;" from II. Kings x. 4 and Is. xx. 4 
it would seem that "Sheth" means "the phallus," a meaning con- 



We may point out the following Messianic notes and 
characteristics contained in Balaam's prophecy: a. The 
predicted ruler will belong to the family of Jacob. 
b. He will be powerful enough to destroy all Israel's 
enemies, present and future, c. As the protevangelium 
describes a conqueror of the serpent, who himself 
will have to suffer in th* struggle, as the second pre- 
diction given to Sem points out that man's salvation will 
be brought about by God's mysterious dwelling in the 
tents of Sem, and as, finally, the series of the patriarchal 
blessings implies the priestly office of the future Saviour 
of mankind, so does the present prophecy show forth the 
Redeemer's regal and princely character, d. It is also 
worthy of note that Balaam is the first prophet who 
touches the time of the future Redeemer. Its indication, 
however, is couched in the negative terms, " not now," 
" not near." 

finned by the Assyrian sinatu, " urine." The phallus- worship among 
the ancients is too well known to need further description. As to 
the Moabites in particular, their Beelphegor- worship is told in 
Num. xxv. 1-3. d. Sayce finds another confirmation for bis render 
ingof the passage in Gen iv. 7 : " If thoudoest well, it is Sheth ; but 
if ill, Chatath lieth at the door." The latter he identifies with the 
Assyrian plague-god Nerra, of whom the inscriptions say : " Nerra 
lieth at the gate." Sheth, therefore, must mean the god of genera- 
tion, so that the passage means : " If thou do well, thy offspring will 
be abundant ; but if ill, the angel of pestilence will afflict thee." It 
should, however, be kept in mind that this interpretation as well as 
that given of Num. xxiv. 17-19 is new and is not found in Christian 
tradition. For though we do not deny that new light may be thrown 
on Scripture by new investigations, these results must be well 
weighed before they can be accepted. 



Section I. The Son of David Shall Rule Forever. 

II. Kings vii. 1-16 ; I. Par. xvii. 1-17. 


1. History of the Prophecy.— The second Book of 
Samuel, or of Kings, as it is named in our editions, opens 
with the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan. David 
is then made king at Hebron over Juda, and subsequently, 
after the murder of Isboseth, over all Israel (c. ii. — v. 3). 
Joab next captures the stronghold of Jebus, which David 
henceforth makes his residence (v. 4-1G) ; then follow suc- 
cessful wars against the Philistines (v. 17-25), and the ark 
is removed from the house of Obededom to the city of 
David (vi.). Now David formed the purpose of building 
the Lord a temple in accordance with Deut. xii. 10 ff., but 
Nathan the prophet reveals to him that the Lord reserves 
this work for his son. 

2. Authorship of the Prophecy.— According to Driver 
(Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 
New York, 1892), Anna's song and the prophecy of Nathan 
are among the parts which in their present form have some 
affinities in thought and expression with Deuteronomy, 
though decidedly less marked than those observable in the 
Redaction of Kings, so that they can hardly be later than 
c. 400 r,.c. 

The contents of the Rooks of Samuel are so various and 
abundant that they can hardly be the work of any single 


man, and the descriptions are so minute and accurate that 
we cannot suppose oral tradition to be the only source of 
the books. On the other hand, the books cannot be con- 
sidered a mere compilation of pre - existing documents, 
since they constitute one continuous whole. The repeti- 
tions which are said to occur are either the mere history 
of a repeated fact — thus David fled twice to the Philistines, 
and twice he proved his marvellous generosity towards Saul 
— or they are narrating the same fact from different points 
of view and in different connections, as may be seen in the 
history of the Ammonite-Syrian war, which is mentioned 
in II. Kings viii. 12, and again in x. 1 ff., in order to connect 
this event with David's sin. 

The author of the books is not named in Sacred Script- 
ure, and Samuel, who is called their author in the Babylo- 
nian Gemara, can hardly have written them, since they 
contain numerous events that happened after Samuel's 
death. The opinions that Gad, or Nathan, or Isaias, or 
Jeremias, or Ezechias, or Esdras, has written the books 
are without solid foundation. We believe that Samuel and 
Gad and Nathan are the joint authors of Kings I., II. 
(I. Par. xxix. 29; xxvii. 24; ancient tradition). 

The time of composition may be inferred from the fol- 
lowing facts: 1. Mention is made of a distinction between 
Juda and Israel, a distinction that was introduced in 
David's time (I. Kings xi. 8; xvii. 52; xviii. 16; II. Kings 
ii. 9-10; v. 1-5; xix. 41; xx. 2; II. Kings iii. 10; xxiv. 1). 
2. On the other hand, the author does not tell us of Solo- 
mon's reign, though he supposes David's death (II. Kings 
v. 4), and asserts that Siceleg belongs to the kings of Juda 
(I. Kings xxvii. 6) : the last of these facts seems to show 
that the division into the two kingdoms had already taken 
place at the time of the writer. 3. In the Septuagint ver- 
sion of II. Kings viii. 7 and xiv. 27 there is mention of 
Roboam; if then the authenticity of these j>assages were 
beyond dispute, it would be certain that the books have 
been written during the reign of Roboam. The facts con- 


tained in I. Kings viii. 8; xii. 2; xxix. 3, 6, 8 ; II. Kings 
vii. 6, which are sometimes alleged as indicative of the 
author's time, do not shed any real light on the subject. 
The books must have been completed towards the end of 
Solomon's reign, or under his son Roboam. 

3. Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— 1. Nathan's 
prediction is regarded as a prediction after the event by 
those authors whose views have been stated above in Driver's 
synopsis. Here belong De Wette, Movers, Ewald, Baur, 
Diestel (cf. Meignan, " Proprieties Messianiques," Paris, 
1878, pp. 120 ff.). According to these writers the words of 
Nathan, which were very few and most obscure, have after 
the event been amplified into the present prophecy. This 
view has been sufficiently refuted where the age of the 
Books of Kings was determined. 

2. The Messianic reference of Nathan's prophecy is clear 
from Christian tradition, a. Not to speak of the epistle 
to the Hebrews (i. 5) in which the Apostle understands 
the passage of Christ's natural divine sonship, b. we may 
point to the testimony of Tert. (M. 2, 350), Lact. (6, 486), 
Just. (6, 750), Euseb. (22, 430), Cyr. Alex. (76, 114), Basil 
(32, 882), Theodoret, Procop., Walaf., St. Augustine (Civ. 
Dei, xvii. 8), of St. Chrysostom (Horn. 23 in Act. Apost.), 
and of St. Ambrose (Apol. David altera; cf. St. Aug., de 
praesent. Dei, 35; in Ps. cxxvi.). c. Besides, it must be 
observed that in point of fact, the whole prediction per- 
fectly agrees with Jesus Christ : he is the son of David, he 
has built a house unto God by instituting the Church, his 
royal throne will last for ever, he is the Son of God, he has 
been chastised by God for our sins'; still the mercy of God 
has not departed from him, but has raised him from the 
dead and given him all power in heaven and on earth. 

3. The question may be raised whether Nathan's predic- 
tion applies to Christ in its literal or in a typical sense. 
There are certain reasons which would seem to show that 
all applies to Christ, and to Christ alone, in its literal 
meaning, a. Jesus alone reigns for ever, and b. according 


to St. Paul God has said of him alone: "I will be to him 
a father " (ef. Heb. i. 5). But, on the other hand, there are 
certain reasons that prevent us from applying the predic- 
tion to Jesus Christ alone, a. According to verse 13, the 
material temple seems to be had in view; b. the comparison 
with Saul which is found in the passage does not well suit 
Jesus; c. in Ps. lxxxviii. (lxxxix.) 31 it is clearly stated 
that verse 14 refers to the personal sins of David's de- 
scendants; d. the eternity of the predicted reign does not 
exclude the other descendants of David, though it neces- 
sarily includes also the Messias. 

4. These reasons for and against the literal application of 
the passage to the Messias have occasioned a difference of 
opinion concerning the real import of the prophecy. There 
are some authors who understand verses 12 and 13 and 
the second part of verse 14 literally of Solomon, while the 
other parts are applied to the Messias in their literal mean- 
ing. It is true that a. no fact of history contradicts this 
exposition, and b. that Ileb. i. 5 is thus applied to Christ 
alone, as it must be; but, on the other hand, a. no reader 
finds such a mingling of the literal sense of Scripture 
natural or plausible, and b. I. Par. xxii. 10 demands that 
the first part of verse 14, quoted in Heb. i. 5, be applied 
to Solomon in its literal sense. 

5. On account of these reasons, other authors have 
thought fit to apply the whole passage in its literal sense 
to Solomon and his offspring, including the Messias, because 
all these will exercise the royal power in their own time 
and order. Some of these will be bad men, and therefore 
the Lord will correct them by means of punishments, with- 
out on that account withdrawing his favor from the race 
as such. And if it be said that St. Paul in the repeatedly 
quoted passage of the epistle to the Hebrews applies this 
prophecy to Christ's natural sonship of God, which cannot 
be applied to the other descendants of David, it must be 
kept in mind that the apostle argues from the typical 
meaning of the passage, which applies to Jesus Christ alone 


as the antitype. Again, it may be said that the whole 
prophecy applies to the whole series of David's offspring, 
but is not equally fulfilled in the single members. This 
explanation is given by Reinke, Hengstenberg; Corluy and 
Cardinal Patrizi give a similar explanation. 

C. According to Cardinal Patrizi we are bound to apply 
the words, " I will be to him a father, and he shall be to 
me a son," in their typical sense to the Messias on account 
of St. Paul's argument in the epistle to the Hebrews. For 
the apostle uses the words about Christ's natural sonship 
of God, and since they do not signify this in their literal 
sense, they must have this meaning in their typical sense. 
As to the rest of Nathan's prediction, we may apply it 
typically to the Messias, but are not bound to do so. For 
it is well understood that David and Solomon are types of 
the Messias: a. Ps. lxxi. (lxxii.) mingles the praise of Solo- 
mon with that of the Messias, or rather it describes the 
Messias in such a manner that the description applies also 
to Solomon, b. Jer. xxx. 9 calls the Messias king David. 
c.'In Ps. xv. (xvi.) 10, 11; xxi. (xxii.) 17-19 David imper- 
sonates the Messias. d. The Messianic types of David and 
Solomon appear also in Ezech. xxxiv. 23, 24; Os. iii. 5; 
Amos ix. 11. e. Solomon, the favorite son of David, is 
rightly looked upon as a type of the true son of David (Is. 
xi. 1; Jer. xxii. 30; Matt. i. 1; Luke i. 32; Apoc. xxii. 16; 
v. 5; Matt. xii. 23; xv. 22; xxi. 9; Mark xii. 35-37; Jo. 
vii. 42; Rom. i. 3; II. Tim. ii. 8). /. The very name of 
Solomon, or " Peaceful," prefigures the peace of the Mes- 
sianic reign (cf. Mich. v. 5; Is. ix. 6, 7; Luke i. 79; ii. 14; 
Is. liii. 5; Jo. xiv. 27; Acts x. 36; Eph. ii. 14, 17; Col. i. 
20, etc.). g. The extraordinary wisdom possessed by Solo- 
mon is rightly regarded as a type of the eternal Wisdom, or 
the Word Incarnate (cf. Col. ii. 3). 

II. Kings vii. 1-16. 

And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the 
Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, he 


said to Nathan the prophet : "Dost thou see that I dwell in a 
house of cedar, and the ark of God is lodged within skins ?" And 
Nathan said to the king : " Go do all that is in thy heart, because 
the Lord is with thee." But it came to pass that night that the 
word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying : " Go and say to thy 
servant David : 

" Thus saith the Lord : Shalt thou build me a house to dwell in, 
whereas I have not dwelt in a house from the day that I brought 
the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt even to this day, 
but have walked in a tabernacle, and in a tent, in all the places 
that I have gone through with all the children of Israel ? Did I 
ever speak a word to any one of the tribes of Israel, whom I com- 
manded to feed my people Israel, saying : Why have you not 
built me a house of cedar ? And now thus shalt thou speak to 
my servant David : Thus saith the Lord of hosts : I took thee out 
of the pastures from following the sheep to be ruler over my 
people Israel, and I have been with thee wheresoever thou hast 
walked, and have slain all thy enemies from before thy face, and 
I have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great 
ones that are on the earth. And I will appoint a place for my 
people Israel, and I will plant them, and they shall dwell therein, 
and shall be disturbed no more, neither shall the children of in- 
iquity afflict them any more as they did before, from the day that 
I appointed judges over my people Israel, and I will give thee 
rest from all thy enemies. 

■ ' And ' the Lord foretelleth 2 to thee 

1 The Lord foretelleth to thee. The following is an outline of God's 
special dispensation as it is manifested in the present passage; God's 
manner of dwelling among the people corresponds to the nation's 
political condition. While the people journeyed in the desert, or 
were harassed by their enemies, God dwelt among them in a tent. 
The temple will be the sign of the nation's final establishment in its 
theocratic constitution. At the time when David intended to build 
the temple, the theocratic kingdom was not yet firmly established. 
For the house of David was to be its stay and foundation, and 
the house of David had not yet conquered all its enemies ; David 
was a warrior, while the temple must be built to serve as the sign 
and the seal, as it were, of David's everlasting kingship. Consequent- 
ly, the Lord must first build David's house, before David's house can 
build the temple (cf. Clair, in II. Kings vii. 11). 

2 The Lord foretelleth to thee. The divine promises may be reduced 
to three: a. the everlasting reign of David's family; b. the erec- 
tion of the temple by the seed of David ; c. the exaltation of David's 
seed to the divine sonship. 


That the Lord will make thee a house 8 ; 

And when thy days shall be fulfilled, 

And thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, 

I will raise up thy seed after thee 

Which shall proceed out of thy womb, 

I will establish his kingdom ; 

He shall build a house to my name, 

And I will establish the throne of his kingdom for 4 ever ; 

I will be to him a father, 

And he shall be to me a son ; 

And if he commit any iniquity, 

a. Balaam had foretold that a ruler should spring from the family 
of Jacob ; the dying Jacob had pointed out that the ruler would rise 
in the lion of Juda; Nathan's prediction enlarges the idea of the 
coming ruler, while it limits his origin to the family of David. The 
seed of the woman, the seed of the patriarchs, is now identified with 
the seed of David. 

b. Noe had predicted that the Lord would be the God of Sem, would 
dwell in a special manner in the tents of Sem ; Nathan's prophecy 
points out that the Lord will dwell in the city of Jerusalem, in the 
temple ; but the temple itself is only a historical fact which points 
in its significance to the future. While it symbolizes the full estab- 
lishment of the theocratic kingdom, it typifies also that which is sym- 
bolized by the theocracy — the Messianic times, when God will dwell 
in a new manner among men through the instrumentality of David's 
royal seed. 

c. At the Exodus, Israel had been taken up into the divine sonship 
(Ex. iv. 22) ; David's seed will enjoy this sonship in a far higher sense. 
But there are two sides which will characterize this sonship: mercy and 
chastisement. The latter is described as inflicted in order to remove 
sin; it is therefore a chastisement of redemption, a type of the Re- 
deemer's suffering in order to free us from our sins. Here it must be 
noted again that Nathan's prophecy carries the Messianic idea further 
than it had been made known before that time. It had indeed been 
foretold that the serpent would lie in wait for the woman's seed, but 
now the suffering is no more to come from the serpent or the ser- 
pent's seed, but from God himself with a view to future correction 
(cf. Briggs, " Messianic Prophecy," p. 128). 

3 House. This word has either its proper (I. Par. xvii. 4) or a meta- 
phorical meaning (Ex. i. 21 ; Deut. xxv. 9 ; Ruth iv. 11 ; I. Kings 
ii. 35), as its context requires. In the present prophecy it occurs in 
both meanings, as the text shows. 

4 For ever. This clause denotes sometimes a very long time, 
sometimes an eternal duration in the strict sense of the word. Its 
emphasis in the present prophecy, its absolute form, its parallel pas- 
sages (Ps. lxxxviii. 30, 38 ; lxxi. 5, 7, 17), its Messianic reference (Luke 
i. 32, 33), are so many indications that eternity in the strict sense of 
the word is here spoken of. 


I will correct him with the rod of men, 

And with the stripes of the children of men. 

But my mercy I will not take away from him, 

As I took it from Saul, 

Whom I removed from before my face. 

And thy house shall be faithful, 

And thy kingdom for ever before thy face, 

And thy throne shall be firm for ever." 
According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so 
did Nathan speak to David. 


1. The following are, therefore, the Messianic character- 
istics predicted in Nathan's prophecy: a. The Messias will 
be of David's flesh and seed. b. He will be David's heir. 
c. His reign will last for ever. d. He will surely come, 
however unfaithful the house of David may prove to be. 
e. He will be the natural son of God. 

2. But it follows from the preceding paragraphs that not 
all these particulars could be understood from the prophecy 
unless God specially enlightened the mind of the reader or 
hearer. What David could naturally infer from Nathan's 
words was that some kind of royal power would remain in 
his family for ever, or at least for a long space of time. In 
point of fact, however, the Holy Ghost seems to have en- 
lightened David's mind so that he understood also the 
Messianic reference clearly. This \ve conclude from Acts 
ii. 30, 31; Ps. xv. (xvi.) 10; lxxi. (lxxii.); xliv. (xlv.) 7. 

Section II. The Son of David is the Prince of Pastors. 

Jer. xxiii. 1-8. ; cf. Jer. xxxiii. 14-26. 


1. Connection of the Prophecy with its Context.— 
Jer. xxi. 11-xxiii. 8 forms an important group of prophe- 
cies. The divine judgments on the successive rulers who 
occupied in Jeremias' day the throne of David are vividly 


described. An introductory statement is found in xxi. 1 1- 
14; then follows an admonition impressing upon the king 
the paramount importance of justice, xxii. 1-9; this part 
may be regarded as the fulfilment of Deut. xxix. 23 f.; 
next follow the special judgments on the individual kings. 
First Sellum (Shallum, the recompensed, who must be 
identified with Joachaz) will suffer perpetual banishment 
in Egypt, vv. 10-12; Joakim (Jehoiakim) will have an 
ignominious end, since his exactions strangely contrast 
with the just dealings of his father Josias, vv. 13-19; in 
the third place, Jechonias (Jehoiachin) will be banished to 
a foreign land, vv. 20-30. 

After this follows the climax of the entire prophecy in 
xxiii. 1-8: vv. 1-2 contain a denunciation of the faithless 
shepherds who have neglected and ruined their charge; but 
if thus the one part of II. Kings vii. 14 finds its fulfilment, 
God does not forget the favorable promise made to the 
house of David. Consequently, Jeremias closes with a 
promise of ultimate restoration, and a picture of the rule 
of the ideal king springing from Jesse's seed, contrasting 
this rule point by point with the defects of his own con- 
temporary kings, vv. 3-8. Such contrasts are noticeable 
between xxii. 13, 17 and xxiii. 5Z>; xxiii. 1-2 and xxiii. 6a; 
iii. 15 and xxiii. 4. About the special meaning of the royal 
names in these prophecies commentators are not yet 
agreed; some of the more plausible explanations may be 
seen in Knabenbauer (In Jer., p. 283) and in Hengstenberg 
(Christology, AVashington, 1839, iii. pp. 398 f.). 

2. Jer. xxxiii. 14-26 is parallel to Jer. xxiii. 1-8; in 
fact, Driver calls it a mere repetition in a slightly varied 
form; Briggs (Messianic Prophecy, p. 244) says: "These 
[prophecies] are essentially the same, and yet they differ in 
certain important particulars, showing that the second pas- 
sage is an enlargement and an improvement upon the first." 
The principal difficulty arising in connection with the sec- 
ond passage is the doubt concerning its authenticity. The 
doubt has its foundation in the fact that a, the second 


passage is wanting in the LXX., and b. that parts of the 
passage are a mere repetition of previous prophecies; thus 
vv. 14, 15, 1G are nearly the same as Jer. xxiii. 5, G; vv. 
20-22 are almost identical with xxxi. 35-37; vv. 25, 2G are 
apparently taken from the same place. 

It is on this account that J. P. Michaelis, Jahn, Hitzig, 
Movers, and Scholz reject the authenticity of Jer. xxxiii. 
14-2G. Catholic authors generally, and among non-Catho- 
lics, Ki'iper, Ilengstenberg, Ewald, Graf, Keil, and Smith 
defend the authenticity of our passage. As to its absence 
from the LXX. version, a. it may be owing to an accident, or 
b. the Hebrew copy from which the version was made may 
have accidentally lacked the passage, c. Ilengstenberg is 
of opinion that its absence from the LXX. proves only that 
even at such an early date there were scholars who had 
as little critical judgment as those learned men of our 
day manifest who reject the passage as unauthentic (cf. 
Knabenbauer, in Jer., p. 421; Ilengstenberg, "Christol- 
ogy," Washington, 1839, iii. p. 445 ; Briggs, "Messianic 
Prophecy," p. 244, etc.). 

3. Subject of the Prophecy.— The principal subject 
of the prophecy is determined by the meaning of the 
" pastors " in v. 4, of the " just branch " in v. 5, and of the 
" Lord our just one " in v. G. a. Venema agrees with sev- 
eral scholars preceding him in explaining v. 4 as referring 
to the time of the Machabees. But it must be granted 
that according to the context the " pastors " will be con- 
nected with "the just branch" of David; now the Macha- 
bees did not belong to David's royal family, b. The same 
reasoning holds with regard to Grotius' opinion according 
to which the " pastors " refer to Esdras and Nehemias. c. 
The explanation according to which Zorobabel is spoken 
of' in the fourth verse is, at least, incomplete; it is, how- 
ever, defended by St. Ephrem, Theodor., Calmet, Reinke, 
Sanct., etc. Ilengstenberg endeavors to exclude this inter- 
pretation for two reasons : First, the subject spoken of in 
verse 4 must be identified with the " just branch " men- 


tioned in the fifth verse; now the latter can hardly be 
identified with Zorobabel. Secondly, if Zorobabel were 
spoken of in the fourth verse, Jeremias would describe the 
Israelite salvation by degrees; but such a gradual develop- 
ment of salvation is unknown in the prophet Jeremias (cf. 
Ilengst., iii. p. 40G). The fourth verse speaks about "pas- 
tors " in the plural, because the evil to which this particu- 
lar good is opposed consisted of a series of individuals, or 
else because the opposing good is considered as a generic 
idea. d. The majority of Christian interpreters explain v. 
4 as referring to the Messias (Maid., Mar., Lap., Men., Tir., 
Bade, Scholz, Schu., Ilengst., etc.). a. The connection of 
the verse with the following, /?. the extent of the promises 
connected with the shepherds, y. the New Testament pas- 
sages representing the Messias as the good shepherd, and 6. 
the usual way in which Jeremias describes the Messianic 
salvation are so many proofs that the Messias is spoken of 
in the fourth verse, e. Still all this may be granted, and 
nevertheless the above-mentioned reference of the passage 
maintained, in so far as Zorobabel is truly a type of the 
future Messias. Such a view would remove most of the 
difficulties above stated, and would satisfy all exigencies of 
text and context. 

Thus far we have supposed that the context of verse 4 
refers to the Messias; this supjwsition must now be based 
on a solid foundation. Verse 5 supplies us several proofs 
for our position, a. The " branch " is a peculiarly Messi- 
anic title, as may be inferred from the dying words of 
David (II. Kings xxiii. 3-5 Ileb.), from Is. iv. 2; Zach. iii. 
8; vi. 12. Then, he who is here called "the branch" is 
named "David," Jer. xxx. 9; "pastor," Ezech. xxxiv. 23; 
"my servant David," Ezech. xxxvii. 24 (cf. Os. iii. 5; Mich, 
v. 1; Is. xi. 1; Am. ix. 12). b. The words "a king shall 
reign " bear a peculiarly Messianic reference. The restora- 
tion of the theocracy had been repeatedly promised, and 
the Davidic king was foretold in II. Kings vii. 14 and II. 
Kings xxiii. 3-5 (Ileb.). c. The words "shall be wise" 


have also a Messianic bearing, as may be seen from Is. xi. 
2; xlii. 1; lii. 13 (Heb.). d. Finally, the clause "and 
shall execute judgment and justice in the earth " well 
agrees with the Messianic explanation of the whole passage. 
For similar attributes are predicated of the Messias in Is. ix. 
(>, 7; xi. 3 f. ; xlii. G; xlix. G, 7 f. . . . David is therefore 
rightly considered as the type and the model of the Messias 
(II. Kings viii. 15). 

The Messianic reference of the whole passage is also 
confirmed by the sixth verse, where the name of the com- 
ing Saviour is given as "the Lord our just one," or, as the 
Hebrew text reads, "the Lord our justice." For though 
Scholz, Ewald, Graf, Naeg., Cheyne refer this name to 
Israel, their reason for doing so is by no means proof 
against all exceptions. It is true that in xxxiii. 1G Jere- 
mias applies this name to Jerusalem, but this fact does not 
show that the prophet applies the name to Jerusalem where- 
soever he uses it. a. As the context in which Jeremias 
employs this name differs in different passages, so may its 
application vary in various contexts. It is not at all im- 
proper that Jerusalem should be named "the Lord our 
justice," since Jerusalem as the type of the Church repre- 
sents the Messias' mystical body. b. But in the present 
context, the opening clause shows unmistakably that the 
Messias himself is denoted by the name. For in the He- 
brew text we read " in his days," and not " in those days." 
The pronoun " his " refers back, therefore, to the " branch " 
of the preceding verse, c. At the same time it is con- 
nected with the "him" of the sixth verse. Hence the 
"him" of verse G is identical with the " branch," which 
we have shown to be a name of the Messias. And conse- 
quently, " the Lord our justice" is the name by which they 
shall call the Messias. 

Finally, we must add a few Rabbinic testimonies to show 
that our interpretation of Jeremias' prophecy agrees with 
that of the Synagogue. The Targum translates the clause 
of verse 5, " I will raise up to David a just branch," by the 


words : " I will raise unto David the Messias the just." The 
Talmud (Baba Bathra, 75&; Yalkut in loco) has the fol- 
lowing comment on the sixth verse : " Rabbi Samuel, the 
son of Nachman, said in the name of Rabbi Jonathan: 
Three are called by the name of the Holy One, blessed be 
he! viz.: the just, the Messias, and Jerusalem. Of the just 
it is said : Every one that is called by my name (Is. xliii. 
7). Of the Messias it is said: This is his name. . . And 
of Jerusalem it is written: And the name of the city 
from that day shall be, The Lord is there " (Ezech. xlviii. 
35). . 

The Midrash on Lamentations i. 1G bears clear testi- 
mony for the Messianic character of our passage : " What 
is the name of the king Messias ? Rabbi Abba, son of 
Kahana, said: Jehovah, for it is written: This is his name 
whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness. 
Rabbi Levi said: Blessed is the city whose name is like the 
name of its king, and the name of its king like the name 
of his God. Blessed is the city whose name is like the 
name of its king; because it is written: And the name of 
the city from that day shall be 'Jehovah is there* (Ezech. 
xlviii. 35); and the name of its king like the name of its 
God ; for it is written : And this is his name whereby. . . 
Rabbi Joshua, son of Levi, said: Branch is the name of 
the Messias, for it is written : Behold the man whose name is 
Branch, and he shall grow out of his place. Rabbi Judan 
said, in the name of Rabbi Ibo: Comforter (Menachem) 
is his name; for it is written: The comforter is far from 
me (Lam. i. 1G). Rabbi Hanina replied: There is no 
contradiction in the assertions of both; for Zemach and 
Menachem are equal in number" (cf. Midrash on Ps. xxi. 
1; Prov. xix. 21; Mechilta on Jer. xvi. 14). 

The Talmud (Berachoth, fol. xii. col. ii.) has a similar 
testimony on Jer. xxiii. 7, 8: "Ben-Zoma asked the wise 
men: Will mention be made of the Egyptian Exodus in 
the days of the Messias ? Is it not said : The days come, 
saith the Lord, , . ? They replied : The Egyptian Exodus 


will not lose its place altogether, but will only become 
secondary, in view of the liberation from the subjection to 
the other Gentile kingdoms." 

The Targum translates Jer. xxxiii. 15 : "I will raise 
up unto David the Meesias of justice," instead of the com- 
mon version: "I will make the bud of justice to spring 
forth unto David." Hence the Messianic interpretation 
given by the Synagogue of the latter passage is beyond dis- 

Jer. xxiii. 1-8. 

"Woe to the pastors 1 that destroy and tear the sheep of my 
pasture," saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord the God 
of Israel to the pastors that feed my people: "You have scattered 
my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them ; be- 
hold I will visit upon you for the evil of your doings," saith the 

"And I will 2 gather together the remnant of my flock, out of 
all the lands into which I have cast them out, and I will make 
them return to their own fields, and they shall increase and be 

"And I will set up pastors over them, and they shall feed them ; 
they shall fear no more, and they shall not be dismayed, and none 
shall be wanting of their number," saith the Lord. 

1 Pastors. The pastors are the kings of the people (cf . Jer. xxii. 22 ; 
II. Kings v. 2 ; vii. 7). Their crime is twofold : they have corrupted 
the people of God morally, and have ruined them socially ; for in 
the theocratic state moral and social welfare are connected. This 
general threat of the Lord against the unfaithful shepherds is then 
specially applied to the unfaithful pastors of Israel. Their sins are 
summarized in the clause: "you have not visited them." God, 
therefore, summarizes their punishment too in the words : " I will 
visit upon you for the evil of your doings." 

2 I will gather together. After announcing the punishment of the 
pastors the prophet proceeds to predict the mercies of God towards 
his people. They are reduced to three heads : 1. God will gather 
the remnant of his flock which the unfaithful pastors had scattered 
into all lands, and will restore it to the land of promise, where it will 
prosper and multiply. 2. Instead of the faithless pastors God will 
set up faithful shepherds, who will provide the proper nourishment, 
will ward off all danger, and will not lose any under their charge. 
3. Finally, God will raise up the "just branch " of David's line, who 
will rule with wisdom and justice all the world over. This will give 
rise to his name " the Lord our just one." 


" Behold the days come," saith the Lord, " and I will raise up 
to David a just branch ; and a king shall reign, and shall be wise ; 
and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In those 
days shall Juda be saved, and Israel shall dwell confidently ; and 
this is the name that they shall call him: The Lord our just one." 

"Therefore, 3 behold the days come," saith the Lord, "and 
they shall say no more: The Lord liveth who brought up the chil- 
dren of Israel out of the land of Egypt ; but : The Lord liveth 
who hath brought out and hath brought hither the seed of the 
house of Israel from the north country, and out of all the lands, 
to which I had cast them forth ; and they shall dwell in their own 

Jer. xxxiii. 14-26. 

" Behold, 4 the days come," saith the Lord, "that I will per- 
form the good word that I have spoken to the house of Israel, 

3 Therefore, behold the days come. In the third place the prophet 
describes the sentiments of the gathered Hock after its restoration. 
Even as Israel testified the greatest gratitude to God for its delivery 
from Egypt, so will the restored children of Israel praise God for 
bringing them from the north country and out of all the lands into 
which they had been driven through the carelessness of their pastors. 

4 Behold the days come. The whole prophetic passage (Jer. xxxiii. 
14-26) may be divided into three parts : 1. God promises in general 
his Messianic blessings, including a continuation of David's royal 
house in the bud of justice, and of the sacrifice by the hands of the 
priests and Levites. The city itself will thus according to the Hebrew 
text be named "the Lord our just one," taking its name from the 
name of its king and master (vv. 14-18). 2. The restoration of 
David's kingdom and of the priests and Levites as well as the multi- 
plication of David's and the Levites' seed is as sure as the regular 
interchange of day and night ; since then with these two institu- 
tions the theocracy stands and falls, the future restoration of the 
theocracy is infallibly to come (vv. 19-22). 3. Finally, the prophet 
answers the doubts (vv. 23-26) of certain Chaldee or Egyptian or 
Samaritan tribes (Rhaban., St. Thorn., Mar., Movers, Jahn, Trochon, 
Hitzig), or better of certain diffident members of the Jewish kingdom 
(Theod., Vat., Sanct , Lap., Calmet, Loch, Scholz, Schn., Naeg., Keil, 
Or., etc.), who believe that the Lord has cast off his two chosen families, 
i.e., the kingdoms of Israel and Juda (Sanct., Gord., Scholz, Schn., 
Trochon), or the tribes of Juda and Benjamin (Mai v.), or the families 
of David and Aaron (Theod., Maid., Mar., Reinke, Loch), or both 
the tribes of Juda and Benjamin and the families of David and Aaron 
(Lap., Tir.), or finally either the former or the latter pair (Rhaban., 
St. Thorn., Calmet). The Lord consoles the diffident Israelites and 
confounds their boastful enemies by repeating the assurance of his 
love for the chosen people an account oi its glorious ancestors (cf. 
Knabenb., in h. 1.). 


and to the house of Juda. In those days and at that time, I will 
make the bud of justice to spring forth unto David, and he shall 
do judgment and justice in the earth. In those days shall Juda 
be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell securely, and this is the name 
that they shall call him : The Lord our just one." 

For thus saith the Lord: "There shall not be cut off from 
David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. 
Neither shall there be cut off from the priests and Levites a man 
before my face, to offer holocausts, and to burn sacrifice, and to 
kill victims continually.'" 

And the word of the Lord came to Jeremias, saying : " Thus 
saith the Lord: if my covenant with the day can be made void, 
and my covenant with the night, that there should not be day and 
night in their season: then may also my covenant with David my 
servant be made void, that he should not have a son to reign upon 
his throne, and witli the Levites and priests my ministers. As 
the stars of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea 
be measured : so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, 
and the Levites my ministers." 

And the word of the Lord came to Jeremias, saying: " Hast 
thou not seen that this people hath spoken, saying : ' The two 
families which the Lord had chosen are cast off,' and they have 
despised my people, so that it is no more a nation before them ?" 
Thus saith the Lord : "If I have not set my covenant between 
day and night, and laws to heaven and earth : then indeed I will 
also cast off the seed of Jacob, and of David my servant, so as not 
to take any of his seed to be rulers of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob. For I will bring back their captivity and will have 
mercy on them." 


1. The people of Israel is assured that whatever moral 
and political evils have befallen the theocracy on account 
of its faithless pastors the Lord himself will repair by 
means of faithful pastors and of the just and wise rule 
brought in by David's branch. And since the latter was 
commonly identified with the Messias, it follows that Jere- 
mias consoles the people with the Messianic hope, and thus 
strengthens it to bear patiently the evils of the coming 


2. Since David's branch will be called " Jahveh our just 
one "many interpreters have looked upon this name as 
indicating the divine nature of the Messias. a. The ques- 
tion whether the subject of the clause " they shall call him " 
is indefinite (Jerome and the majority of commentators) 
or whether "the Lord" must be supplied (LXX.), is of 
no special weight either for or against the foregoing opinion. 
b. The opinion is more solidly supported by the fact that 
the Messias must be what he is named. But lie is called 
"Jahveh our justice." Hence he is "Jahveh our justice." 
But the divine name Jahveh is incommunicable to creat- 
ures. Hence the Messias is God. Still, this argument is 
considerably weakened by the consideration that Jerusalem 
bears the same name in Jer. xxxiii. 16 (Heb.), and that the 
altars erected by Moses and Jacob have a divine name (Ex. 
xvii. 15 (Heb.); Gen. xxxiii. 20 (Heb.)). c. Nor is the 
argument that the preceding reason is valid because it rests 
on the name of a person strong enough to render the 
opinion in defence of which it is urged scientifically prob- 
able. For there are many proper and personal names in 
Hebrew which are etymologically composed of El or Jah- 
veh, like the name "Jahveh our justice," without on that 
account implying the divinity of the bearer. Joachaz, 
Joakim, Jechonias, Sedecias are only a few examples illus- 
trating this fact. d. It is therefore safer to prove the divinity 
of the Messias from other passages of the Old Testament. 
That done, one may return to the name " Jahveh our jus- 
tice," and show that it contains a summary of the whole 
Messianic economy. It describes the Messias, considered 
absolutely, as gifted with all the treasures of divinity; and, 
from a relative point of view, it represents him as the 
fountain of all supernatural grace, since he is our justice. 

3. The priests of whom Jeremias here speaks are not the 
descendants of Aaron according to the flesh (cf. Jer. iii. 16; 
xxxi. 32). In the same manner the prophet must be 
understood to speak about the pastors and princes as the 
moral offspring of David. Ps. xliv. 8 supposes that the 


Messias will have a number of companions in his work of 
redemption ; and since the Messias is called David, king, 
the prince of pastors (Ezech. xxxiv. 23; xxxvii. 22, 24, 25), 
his companions are rightly designated sons of David. The 
Hebrew word for "seed " bears such an interpretation, and 
the New Testament strictly agrees with it (Gal. iii. 20; I. 
Pet. ii. 5; Apoc. i. G; v. 10). 

Section III. The Messias will spring from " the Marrow 
of the High Cedar." 

Ezech. xvii. 


1. Time and Occasion of the Prophecy.— Nabuchodo- 
nosor, king of Babylon, had carried Jechonias (Joachin), the 
son of Joakim, to Babylon, after he had reigned only three 
months. Matthanias, Joachin's uncle and son of Josias, 
was made King of Juda in place of his nephew; his name 
was changed to " Sedecias" on the occasion of his swearing 
fidelity to the king of Babylon. All this occurred in the 
eighth year of Nabuchodonosor's reign. As early as the 
fourth year of Joakim's reign the prophet Jeremias had 
commanded all to subject themselves to Nabuchodonosor 
(Jer. xxv. 11), signifying that only on this condition Jeru- 
salem would be saved from ruin (Jer. xxi. 8; xxxviii. 2, 17, 
18). But Sedecias and his princes trusted in Egypt, ex- 
pecting freedom from the Babylonian yoke through an 
Egyptian alliance. The oath of fidelity was broken, and 
open hostility against Babylon was begun. In this manner 
they revolted not only against Babylon, but also, and espe- 
cially, against God, disobeying his commands and profaning 
his name. Ezechiel's prophecy is to be placed between the 
portion cc.viii.-xi., out of the sixth month of the sixth 
year, and c. xx., out of the fifth month of the seventh year, 
since the carrying away of Jechonias (599 B.C.). It was 
therefore spoken about five years before the destruction 
(c. 593 B.C.). 


2. Division of the Prophecy.— The prophet describes in 
vv. 1-21 Sedecias' disloyalty to his Babylonian masters, 
and the consequences which will result from it; in vv. 
22-24 he gives us a glance at brighter days to come, and 
the restoration of the Davidic kingdom in the future. 
The first part contains in vv. 3-10 an allegory, which is 
explained and applied to the circumstances in vv. 11-21. 

3. The Messianic Character of the Passage is 
proved in the Corollary. 

Ezech. XVII. 

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying : " Son of man, 
put forth a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel, and 
say: Thus saith God: A large eagle 1 with great wings, long 
limbed, full of feathers, and of variety, came to Libanus, 2 and 
took away the marrow of the cedar. He cropped off the top of 
the twigs thereof, and carried it away into the land of Chanaan, 
and he set it in a city 3 of merchants. And he took of the seed 
of the land, and put it in the ground for seed, that it might take 
a firm root over many waters ; he planted it on the surface 4 of 

1 A large eagle. This metaphor is employed frequently in Script- 
ure to describe a successful and rapacious conqueror, flushed with 
victories and bent on pushing his victorious march rapidly from land 
to land (cf. Is. xlvi. 11 ; Jer. xlviii. 40; xlix. 22; Lam. iv. 19; II. 
Par. xxx. 10). Why the prophet applies it in the present passage to 
the kings of Babylon and of Egypt is easily understood. 

5 Libanus. Jer. xxii. 23 explains why Jerusalem is called Libanus. 
The most sumptuous edifices of the city were constructed out of cedar 
wood brought from Mount Lebanon. The cedar itself is a figure of 
David's royal house ; the marrow of the cedar or its top is the ruling 
Davidic king, in our case Joachin, who had been carried away by 
Nabuchodonosor (IV. Kings xxiv. 15 ; II. Par. xxx. 10). 

3 City of merchants. Chanaan is the parallel term of the city of 
merchants. Ezech. xvi. 29 explains why Chanaan is thus repre- 
sented as containing the city of merchants. Movers (Phoenizier, ii. 3, 
pp. 239 f.) explains how Babylon can be termed a city of merchants. 

4 On the surface of the earth. The Hebrew word corresponding to 
this clause is a hapax-legomenon ; n. Vat., Maid., Mar., Calm., Schn., 
Keil render it " willow," so that the meaning would be : " he planted 
it like a willow," i.e., that it might grow like a willow over many 
waters, b. The meaning " willow " is rejected by St. Jerome, Aquila, 
Symmachus, Theodotion, who give the rendering "on the surface of 
the earth." c. The simple Syriac and the Chaldee versions speak 
about "a vine;" but this rendering too, like that of willow, only 
mixes the metaphor. 


the earth. And it sprung up and grew into a spreading vine of 
low stature, and the branches thereof looked towards him, and 
the roots thereof were under him ; so it became a vine, and grew 
into branches, and shot forth sprigs. And there was another large 
eagle, with great wings, and many feathers, and behold this vine, 
bending as it were her roots towards him, stretched forth her 
branches to him, that he might water it by the furrows of her 
plantation. It was planted in a good ground upon many waters, 
that it might bring forth branches, and bear fruit, that it might 
become a large vine. Say thou : Thus saith the Lord God : Shall 
it prosper then ? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and strip 
off its fruit, and dry up all the branches it hath shot forth, and 
make it wither, and this without a strong arm, or many people, 
to pluck it up by the root ? Behold, it is planted : shall it pros- 
per then ? Shall it not be dried up when the burning wind shall 
touch it, and shall it not wither in the furrows where it grew ?" 
And the Lord came to me, saying : "Say to the provoking 
house : Know you not what these things mean ? Tell them : Be- 
hold the king 6 of Babylon cometh to Jerusalem, and he shall take 
away the king and the princes thereof, and carry them with him 
to Babylon. And he shall take one of the king's seed, and make 
a covenant with him, and take an oath of him, yea, and he shall 
take away the mighty men of the land, that it may be a low king- 
dom, and not lift itself up, but keep his covenant and observe it. 
But he hath revolted from him, and sent ambassadors to Egypt, 
that they might give him horses and much people. And shall he 
that hath done thus prosper or be saved? and shall he escape that 
hath broken the covenant ? As I live, saith the Lord God : In the 
place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he 
hath made void, and whose covenant he broke, even in the midst 
of Babylon shall he die. And not with a great army, nor with 

5 The king of Babylon cometh. According to the Hebrew text we 
must render the following verbs in the past tense: ''The king of 
Babylon has come . . . and has taken away . . . and carried them 
with him . . . and has taken one of the king's seed . . . and made 
a covenant with him . . . and taken an oath of him." All these his- 
torical facts had happened before Ezechiel uttered the present pas- 
sage, as may be seen in IV. Kings xxiv. 11 f. ; Jer. xxiv. 1 ; xxix. 2 ; 
\\. Par. xxxvi. 13; IV. Kings xxiv. 14-16; Jer. ii. 18, 36, 37; IV. 
Kings xxiv. 20 ; Jer. xxxvii. 5. The name of the Egyptian Pharao 
with whom Sedecias had made his godless alliance was Apries, or ac- 
cording to Manetho, Uachabra (cf . Wiedemann, yTCgypt. Geschichte, 
pp. 602, 636). 


much people shall Pharao fight against him, when he shall cast 
up mounds and build forts to cut off many souls. For he hath 
despised the oath, breaking his covenant, and behold he hath 
given his hand : and having done all these things, he shall not 
escape." Therefore, thus 6 saith the Lord God : " As 1 live, I will 
lay upon his head the oath he hath despised, and the covenant he 
hath broken. And I will spread my net over him, and lie shall 
be taken in my net, and I will bring him into Babylon, and will 
judge him there for the transgression by which he hath despised 
me. And all his fugitives with all his band shall fall by the 
sword, and the residue shall be scattered into every wind, and you 
shall know that I the Lord have spoken it." 

Thus saith the Lord God : "I myself will take of the mar- 
row of the high cedar, and will set it ; I will crop off a tender 7 
twig from the top of the branches thereof, and will plant it on a 
mountain high and eminent. On the high mountain of Israel will 
I plant it, and it shall shoot forth into branches, and shall bear 
fruit, and it shall become a great cedar, and all birds shall dwell 
under it, and every fowl shall make its nest under the shadow of 
the branches thereof. And all the trees of the country shall 
know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, and ex- 
alted the low tree, and have dried up the green tree, and have 
caused the dry tree to flourish. I the Lord have spoken and 
have done it." 

6 Thus saith the Lord God. The city will thus be taken, the king 
captured and led away, the people killed or dispersed throughout the 
regions of the civilized world. But on the other hand God had prom- 
ised Juda and David an everlasting kingdom (Gen. xlix. 10 ; II. 
Kings vii. 13, 16 ; Ps. lxxxviii. 4, 38, etc.). Hence God here repeats 
the manner in which he will fulfil his promises, a description of 
which he had already given in Jer. xxiii. 5 ; xxxiii. 14, 15, as well as 
in II. Kings vii. 14, 15 ; Ps. lxxxviii. 35. 

1 A tender twig. The metaphorical expressions of vv. 22-24 have 
been explained by Christian commentators in two different ways: 1. 
I will take of the marrow of the cedar, i.e., of David's royal house ; 
I will crop off a tender twig, i.e., Zorobabel, from the top of the 
branches thereof, i.e., from among the sons or the nephews of Jecho- 
nias ; on the high mountain of Israel will I plant it, and it shall 
shoot forth into branches and shall bear fruit, and it shall become a 
great cedar, i.e., the Messianic king will be born of it, (Ephr., Prad., 
Lap., Tir., Gordon, etc.). 2. But other interpreters explain the pas- 
sage thus: I will take of the marrow of the cedar, i.e., of David's 
royal family ; I will crop off a tender twig, i.e., the Mossias ; all that 
follows is then applied to the Messianic king (Theod., Pint., Maid., 
Ba, Mar., Est., Men., Calm., Loch). 



Messianic Character of Ezechiel's Prophecy.— The 

Messianic nature of the present prophecy appears 1. from 
parallel Messianic predictions contained in the Old Testa- 
ment. The figure of the twig may be compared with the 
figurative language in Am. ix. 11; Isaias too uses similar 
metaphors when speaking of the Messias in iv. 2; xi. 1; 
liii. 2; cf. vi. 13. 2. The same follows in the second place 
from several passages which refer to the Messias in the 
New Testament. In St. Luke i. 32, 33 it is said that the 
Lord God will give Christ the throne of his father David, 
and that Christ will reign in the house of Jacob for ever, 
and that of his reign there will be no end. Then again we 
have several parables in which the kingdom of God is com- 
pared to the mustard-seed (Matt. xiii. 31; Mark iv. 31; 
Luke xiii. 19). 3. The Targum distinctly and beautifully 
refers vv. 22, 23 to the Messias, so that the Jewish tradition 
agrees with our interpretation. .4. This reference of the 
passage to the Messias, drawn from extrinsic authority, is 
confirmed by the very extent of the promise. 5. We must 
notice especially the similarity between the description 
given of the vine in this passage and in Ps. lxxix.; Mich. iv. 
6. Theodoret understands the words "on the high moun- 
tain of Israel will I plant it " as referring to Christ's cruci- 
fixion on Golgotha (cf. Trochon, Ezech. pp. 121 ff.; Knab. 
in Ezech. c. xvii.; Hengst., " Christology," iii. pp. 470 if.; 
Briggs, "Messianic Prophecy," p. 270; etc.). 





1. Connection of the Prophecy with the Preceding 
Ones, — It has been shown that the Messias will be the son 
of David ; Micheas tells us too that he will be of David's 
royal city. David himself had come forward when his 
country was heavily afflicted by the inroad of the Phil- 
istines; Micheas describes a threefold affliction which is 
to befall the theocracy, and especially Jerusalem, before 
the birth of the Messianic restorer. The three woes are 
announced in iv. 9, 11; v. 1 : "Now, why art thou drawn 
together with grief? hast thou no king in thee, or is thy 
counsellor perished, because sorrow hath taken thee as a 
woman in labor ? . . . And now many nations are gathered 
together against thee, and they say: Let her be stoned, and 
let our eye look upon Sion. . . . Now shalt thou be laid 
waste, daughter of the robber; they have laid siege 
against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the 
judge of Israel." It is true that interpreters have explained 
these three distinct woes as applying to various misfortunes. 



a. St. Cyril's opinion that the woes referred to Samaria is 
hardly tenable at present, h. There is nearly a general 
agreement that the first affliction refers to the Babylonian 
captivity (GOG B.C.); in fact, Babylon is expressly mentioned 
in the context. Diversity of opinion regards chiefly the 
second and third predictions, c. Several authors under- 
stand the second prediction as applying to Sennacherib 
(Lap., Menochins, Tir., Gordon). This explanation agrees 
well with the words following the second prediction, "he 
hath gathered them together as the hay of the floor." 
Isaias' (xxxvii. 3G ff.) description of Sennacherib's defeat 
corresponds well with such an explanation. But A. the 
words that follow in Micheas do not harmonize with this 
view. " Arise and tread, daughter of Sion, for I will 
make thy horn iron . . ." is a command that implies active 
resistance and personal victory on the part of Sion, while 
in Sennacherib's case Jerusalem had no active part in the 
king's destruction. B. Then again, if the first prediction 
applies to the captivity (GOG B.C.), and the second to Sen- 
nacherib (714 B.C.), the prophetic description goes chrono- 
logically backwards; but in this process the third prophecy 
would hardly find any fit application. For if we were to 
understand the third prophetic woe of Sedecias' defeat 
(588 B.C.) on account of the words " with a rod shall they 
strike the cheek of the judge of Israel " (Ephrem, Rib., 
Sanct.), we should have to suppose that the prophet had 
made chronological retrogressions, d. It seems therefore 
more probable that the second prophecy refers to the Israel- 
ite afflictions in the time of the Machabees and of Anti- 
ochus Epiphanes (c. 1GG B.C.), while the third prediction 
may apply to the Roman inroads under Pompey (6*. G4 B.C.) 
and those leaders who finally destroyed the royal city 
Jerusalem (6'. 70 A.D.). But however we may understand 
the threefold woe which precedes Micheas' prophecy, it is 
certain that the Messianic restorer will be born in extremely 
troublous times, so that David's birth is a perfect type of 
the Messianic birth. 


2. Anti-Christian Explanation of Micheas' Proph- 
ecy. — A. Grotius and a number of Jewish interpreters 
explain the prophecy as referring to Zorobabel alone, a. 
Zorobabel really was "a ruler in Israel." b. Zorobabel's 
"going forth is from the beginning" (536 B.C.), since he 
began his political course from the time of the captivity. 
c. Zorobabel really brought back to the Lord "the remnant 
of his brethren," leading them out of the Babylonian 
captivity to the promised land of Chanaan. d. Finally, 
Zorobab<£ may in a manner be said to have come forth 
from Bethlehem, since he was of the royal family of David. 
These reasons are easily answered, a. If Zorobabel may be 
said to be born in Bethlehem because he descends from 
David's family, Moses may be said to be born in the Ur of 
the Chaldees because his ancestors lived there. The very 
name " Zorobabel " indicates that Babylon is the real birth- 
place of the hero. /?. Nor does Zorobabers birth date 
back to the days of eternity, even though the period of his 
life coincides with the Hebrew restoration from the Baby- 
lonian captivity, y. As to the " remnant " which he led 
back to the city of God, that expression- has commonly a 
meaning extending beyond the mere temporal welfare of 
the nation or any of its parts; 3. and as to the office of 
ruler which was held by Zorobabel, it answers in no manner 
to the glorious description of Micheas, according to which 
he shall " be magnified even to the ends of the earth." 

B. We must add, however, that some Catholics, Theo- 
dore of Mopsuestia and Barhebraeus among the number, 
apply Micheas' prophecy to Zorobabel in a literal sense, 
while in its typical sense they apply it to the Messias. 
This view, and another in which the prophecy has an 
initial fulfilment in Zorobabel, but finds its full accomplish- 
ment in the Messias, may be safely defended, though it 
appears less probable than the explanation which applies 
the prediction wholly and entirely to the coming of Christ. 

C. Another rationalistic interpretation contends that the 
prophecy must be understood not of any real and personal 


but of an ideal Messias. This view has no special grounds 
in the text of the prophet; and, hypothesis as it is, it will 
be sufficiently refuted by the testimonies which we shall 
cite for the existence of a Jewish tradition concerning the 
Messianic interpretation of the prophecy. 

3. Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— a. The 
New Testament is very explicit in applying the prophecy 
to the Messias' birth: the chief priests and the scribes 
answered Herod when he inquired about the birth-place of 
the Messias in the words of Micheas: "And tholfrBethle- 
hem the land of Juda . . . " (Matt. ii. 6). Again, we 
read in Jo. vii. 42 the expressions of the populace gathered 
for the feast at Jerusalem : " Doth not the Scripture say that 
Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, 
the town where David was ?" b. From the New Testament 
passages thus far cited we may immediately infer the exist- 
ence of a Jewish tradition that the Messias was to be 
born at Bethlehem. For as Matthew testifies to this belief 
existing among the priests and scribes, so does John bear 
witness to its presence among the common people. The 
Chaldee paraphrase of Mich. v. 2 shows the same fact. 
For it reads: " Out of thee shall come forth unto me the 
Messias, that he may exercise dominion in Israel." Micheas 
v. 3 is also referred to the Messias in the Talmud (Sanhe- 
drin, fol. 98, col. 2): Rab said: "The son of David will 
not come until the ungodly kingdom has spread itself for 
a period of nine months over Israel [Yoma, fol. 10, col. 1, 
reads " over the whole world " for " over Israel "]; for it is 
said: Therefore will he give them up ..." A similar 
Messianic explanation is given of Mich. v. 5 in the Mid rash 
on the Song of Solomon, viii. 10: " Rabbi Simeon, the son of 
Yochai, has taught: AY'hen you see a Persian horse tied to 
the graves of the land of Israel, expect the footsteps of the 
Messias. AVhat is the reason ? And this man shall be 
the peace . . . And who are the seven shepherds ? In 
the midst is David; Adam, Seth, Mathusalato bis right, 
and Abraham, Jacob, and Moses to his left. And where 


went Isaac ? He went and sat down at the gate of hell, to 
save his children from the judgment of hell; and the eight 
principal men are: Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Sophonias, 
Ezechias, Elias, and the king Messias." Pesachim, fol. 54, 
and Gedarim, fol. 39, agree with the above passages of the 
Talmud in interpreting the prophecy of Micheas in a Mes- 
sianic sense. Kimchi, Rashi, and Abarbanel too agree with 
this same explanation, c. We hardly need to say that all 
the Fathers who have touched this prophecy at all refer 
it to the Messias, at least in its typical sense (cf. Reinke, 
" Mess. Weissag.," iii. pp. 349-364). Theodore of Mop- 
suestia, who was condemned by Pope Vigilius, is the only 
one to agree partially with Grotius and the Jewish com- 
mentators, d. Finally, the other Messianic predictions 
fully agree with that of Micheas. In proof of this we may 
point to II. Kings vii. 14; Ps. ii.; xliv.; Is. vii. 14; ix. 7, 

Mich. v. 2-14. 
And thou, Bethlehem x Ephrata, art a 2 little one among the thou- 

1 Bethlehem Ephrata. The whole passage may be divided into the 
following- parts : 1. Israel will be given up until the appearance of 
the ruler (v. 1-8) ; 2. then will Israel dwell securely, since capable 
men will be there to ward off danger, and the Assyrian will be tri- 
umphantly repelled (vv. 4-6) ; 3. the remnant of Jacob will be like 
beneficent dew for those nations that welcome it, but like a fierce 
lion for those that resist it (vv. 7-9) ; 4. the warlike implements 
will be destroyed, idolatry with its consequences will disappear (vv. 
10-14). Ephrata is added here to Bethlehem, not seemingly to dis- 
tinguish it from the Bethlehem of Zabulon, which is only once named 
(Jos. xix. 15), and from which it is sufficiently distinguished by the 
clause "art a little one among the thousands of Juda" (this latter 
occurs also in Judges xvii. 7-9 ; xix. 1, 2, 18 ; Kuth i. 1, 2 ; I. Kings 
xvii. 12) ; but the addition seems to allude either to the former birth 
of sorrow near Ephrata (Gen. xxxv. 19 ; xlviii. 7), or to the literal 
meaning of the name. For as Bethlehem means "house of bread," 
so Epbrata signifies " fruitfulness." 

9 Art a little one among the thousands of Juda. The tribes were 
divided into thousands, probably of lighting men, each thousand 
having its separate head (Num. i. 16; x. 4). This division continued 
even after Israel had settled in Palestine (Jos. xxii. 21, 30 ; I. Kings 
x. 19 ; xxiii. 23). Places too small to form a thousand by themselves 
were united with others to make up the number, as in 1. Par. xxiii. 11; 


sands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to 

four br» thers, not having many sons, were counted as one family or 
house (Hengst.). As to Bethlehem, it is not mentioned among- the pos- 
sessions of Juda, and in the division under Josue it is wholly omitted 
(Jos. xv.; the LXX. interpolate it in Jos. xv. 59). From its situation 
Bethlehem can never have been a considerable place ; by its site it is 
rather calculated to be an outlying fortress guarding the approach to 
Jerusalem than a populous city. It was fortified and held by the 
Philistines in the time of Saul (11. Kings xxiii. 15), recovered from 
thein by David, and was one of the fifteen cities fortified by Ro- 
boam (II. Par. xi. 0). Its inhabitants were counted with those of the 
neighboring Netophati, both before and after the Captivity (I. Par. 
ii. 54 ; II. Esdr. vii. 26) ; but both together amounted after the Cap- 
tivity to only 179 or 188 men (1. Esdr. ii. 21, 2; II. Esdr. 7, 26). Even 
at that late period it does not appear among the possessions of Juda 
(II. Esdr. xi. 25-30). It is called a village (Jo. vii. 42), a strong spot 
(Joseph. Ant. V. ii. 8), a city (Ruth i. 19 ; I. Esdr. ii. 1, 21 ; II. Esdr. 
vii. 6, 26); but the name "city" applied even to places which had 
only 100 fighting men (Am. v. 3). In the prophecy Bethlehem is 
contrasted with the royal city which would become a den of thieves. 
A more serious difficulty is presented by the discrepancy between 
this passage of Micheas and its repetition in Matt. ii. 4-6. For the 
Evangelist has it: "And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not 
the least among the princes of Juda." The principal solutions of 
this difficulty may be reduced to the following : 

a. Pococke employs much learning and ingenuity to establish a 
verbal agreement between the Prophet and the Evangelist (Nota? mis- 
cell on the Porta Mosis, Works, i. 134-135). He follows Abulwalid, 
li. Tanchum, and a Heb. Arab. Gloss, in supposing that the Hebrew 
word which is rendered "a little one" in Micheas' prophecy has 
also the opposite sense of "great," and that it actually has this 
meaning in Jer. xlviii. 4 ; Soph. xiii. 7. Parallel instances are found 
in the words signifying "holy," "soul," " bless," "insight." But, 
a. it is false that the Hebrew word has the meaning "great " in the 
two passages indicated, fi. Again, even if the Hebrew word had the 
meaning " great " as well as "little," the substitution of "great" 
instead of "little" in the prophecy of Micheas does not make 
Micheas agree with Matthew. For the prophecy thus emended 
would mean: "And thou Bethlehem Ephrata art too great to be 
among the thousands of Juda." 

b. Another solution of the difficulty resulting from the discrepancy 
between the Evangelist and the Prophet is based on the Chaldee, the 
Syriac, the Septuagint, and the Latin versions — the Latin one being 
found in St. Augustine (de Civ. Dei, xviii. 30). The prophecy must 
then be rendered: " It is little that thou shouldst be." But, a. even 
this rendering does not establish a verbal agreement between the 
prophecv and the Gospel. (5. Besides, *W£. is not used in this 
meaning, but t2Z"2 or bp: (Is. xlix. 6), or "pp (II. Kings vii. 19); 
and y, finally, in this clause the person spoken of is always ex- 

c. Pusey agrees with another class of scholars, who propose the foL 


be the ruler in Israel, and his 3 going forth is from the beginning, 

lowing way of solving the difficulty : a. St. Matthew relates how 
the chief priests and scribes, in their answer to Herod's inquiry 
where Chiist should be born, alleged this prophecy. The Evangelist 
did not correct their answer, which gives the substance rather than 
the exact words of Micheas ; for this modal discrepancy between 
prophecy and quotation does not affect the object for which the pre- 
diction had been quoted. (5. Both descriptions of Bethlehem are 
true : the prophet speaks of it as it was in the sight of men ; the 
chief priests spoke of it as it was in the sight of God, and as it should 
become by the birth of the Messias. Still, it must seem strange that 
the chief priests and scribes, who are always represented as knowing 
the Law and the Prophets by heart, make such a change in quoting 
M icheas. 

(.1. It seems, therefore, necessary to add another consideration to the 
last solution of the question. The chief priests' answer is nothing 
but a clear rendering of what the prophet had foretold implicitly and 
obscurely. There is then no difference of meaning between the gos- 
pel and the prophecy ; the difference between them affects only the 
manner in which the prediction is expressed (cf. Knab., Pusey, Bib., 

;i His going forth is from the beginning. In the preceding clause the 
prophet says, "out of thee (Bethlehem) shall he come forth ;" lest 
any one should think that the predicted ruler would have a temporal 
beginning, the inspired author now adds: "his going forth is from 
the beginning," i.e., not from the beginning in which God created 
the heavens and the earth, but " from the days of eternity." It must 
be confessed that the mere letter of the Hebrew text does not neces- 
sarily say : " from eternity ; " it may mean : " from very remote an- 
tiquity." 1. But in the light of further revelation we know that 
Christ had only two goings forth : one temporal, in Bethlehem : one 
eternal, from the bosom of his heavenly Father. Now the temporal 
birth of Christ is represented in this prophecy as still future ; there- 
fore the present clause, which speaks of Christ's birth as past, must 
apply to his eternal generation. Christian interpreters are therefore 
right in maintaining that the Hebrew expressions " from the begin- 
ning," " from the days of eternity" in our prophecy refer to eternity 
in its strict sense (cf. Corluy, Spicil. I. p. 443 ; Pusey, p. 70 ; Kna- 
benb., in h. 1., p. 442). 

2. But even the Jews could in a way understand the words of ZSI i - 
cheas as referring to eternity in its strict sense ; for they could know 
from other prophecies that the future Messias was to be God (Ps. ii. 7; 
Is. ix. ; Ps. xliv. 7 ; cix. 3). Still, the phrase containing either both 
its members or only one of them occurs at times in the meaning of 
" remote antiquity " (cf. Mich. vii. 14, 20 ; Is. Ii. 9), though in Prov. 
viii. 23 it signifies " eternity " in the strict meaning of the word. 3. 
Hence, St. Jerome explains our passage now of the eternal generation 
of the son, now of the son's temporal manifestation in the utterances 
of the prophets. 4. St. Cyril indicates a triple "going forth" of 
the Messias : a. his eternal generation ; b. his incarnation ; c. his 
eternal predefinition as Saviour and Redeemer of the world. 5. Keil 


from the days of eternity. Therefore 4 will he give them up till 
the time wherein she 5 that travaileth shall bring forth, and the 

and Trochon understand the "going forth " as signifying the divine 
operations by means of which especially the angel of the Lord has 
been manifested. But they cannot show that the Hebrew expression 
ever has such a meaning, since in Sacred Scripture the "going 
forth " of God does not mean his operation. G. Jahn, Schegg, and 
other modern writers explain the "going forth" of the Messias a. 
as indicating the antiquity and the nobility of his family, or b. as 
signifying his ancient and innumerable titles to his kingship. But 
a. the expression, whether in the original or in the versions, does not 
convey the idea of any title to royalty ; and ft. as to the antiquity 
and nobility of the family of the Messias, the family of David and 
the tribe of Juda are not more ancient than the other tribes and fami- 
lies of Israel. 7. The Chaldee paraphrase regards " eternity " as one 
of the Messianic names ; but even according to this view we must 
again inquire whether the name is taken in its strict sense or in the 
wider acceptation. 8. The patristic testimonies in which the passage 
is explained as referring to the son's eternal generation may be seen 
in Rib. and Sanct. 

4 Therefore will he give them up. The Hebrew text of this passage 
is rendered by some authors as meaning " therefore will he keep 
them," i.e., not permit them to be destroyed (Jerome, Theod., Rib., 
Sanct., Sa, Mar., Tir.). But a. it must be granted that the Hebrew 
phrase has generally the meaning of " giving over " or " surrender- 
ing" something or some one (Jud. xi. 9 ; I. Kings viii. 46; xiv. 10 ; 
II. Par. xxx. 7, etc. ; cf. Ges. Thesaur., p. 920). b. Besides this, the 
context requires the meaning of surrendering in the present passage ; 
for the calamity is distinctly foretold to last till the advent of the 

5 She that travaileth shall hring forth. Explanations : 1. She that 
travaileth is the Church (Jerome, Theodoret). For a. the Church is 
addressed in Is. liv. 1: "Give praise, O thou barren that nearest 
not" (cf. Luke xxiii. 29; Gal. iv. 27); b. again, by the travailing of 
the Church shall the remnant of his brethren be converted to the 
children of Israel. 2. She that travaileth is the collection of the 
Gentiles united with Christ, from which union many children will be 
born to the Messias (Rib., Mar.) 3. Babylon is she that travaileth. 
for to Babylon will the Israelites be given up, and when that power 
will open its womb and free its captives, then will the remnant re- 
turn to its promised land (Calmet). 

But a. it must be noted that in all these explanations the prophet 
should have rather said : "Till the time wherein she that is barren 
shall bring forth." b. Besides, there is no sufficient connection be- 
tween any of the three events and the promised Redeemer to make 
them fit into the prediction, c. And finally, these meanings do not 
suit the context ; since the transition to the words " she that travail- 
eth shall bring forth " is so abrupt, there must be question of a well- 
known manner of speech. Now it is clear that this well-known 
phrase applied either to Sion (Mich. iv. 9, 10), or to the mother of the 
Messias (Mich. v. 2 ; Is. vii. 14). The preceding explanations are 
therefore excluded. 


remnant of his brethren shall be converted to the children of 
And he 6 shall stand, and feed in the strength of the Lord, in 

4. She that travaileth cannot be Sion, because : a. According to the 
context the phrase cannot be a mere figure for the end of the travail ; 
for then the passage would mean : " He shall give them up until he 
cease to give them up." b. Besides, Sion is spoken of in an unfigur- 
ative sense before and after the present passage, so that we cannot 
have recourse to a figurative meaning in our explanation without 
breaking with the context, c. And finally, in Sacred Scripture 
" travail " taken figuratively means suffering and sorrow, not the joy 
following the suffering, d. Hence, there is question in our pas- 
sage of a real bringing forth of an individual or a collection of indi- 
viduals, a. Though Is. lxvi. 8 represents Sion as bringing forth a 
new nation, Micheas cannot refer to such a birth in the present pas- 
sage, since he speaks of an individual immediately before and after 
the phrase "she that travaileth shall bring forth." For there is 
question of his "going forth," which in Hebrew implies birth, and of 
"his brethren ;" both clauses refer to "the ruler in Israel." Hence, 
the bringing forth too must refer to the birth of the ruler in Israel. 
fj. But Sion is nowhere spoken of as bringing forth the Messias. 

It follows, therefore : 5. that she that travaileth is the mother of 
the Messias. With this explanation the whole passage becomes 
clear ; since the Messias must be born in Bethlehem, which is an in- 
significant village in Juda, his family must be reduced to poverty 
and obscurity before the time of his birth ; but this cannot happen 
if the theocracy remains intact, if David's house continues to flourish ; 
" therefore will he give them up till the time wherein she that trav- 
aileth shall bring forth " (Ephr., Cyr., Theoph., Alb., Lap., Men., 
Tir., Hit/., Schegg, Keil, Trochon, Beinke, Loch, Corluy, Knabenb., 
Pusey, etc.). 

8 And he shall stand. The rest of Micheas' prophecy describes 
the consequences of the ruler's going forth. 1. The first of these 
has been indicated in the last words of the preceding paragraph . 
" The remnant of his brethren shall be converted," which conversion 
is according to the Hebrew text represented by their return to the 
children of Israel in the promised land. 2. The second Messianic 
blessing consists in the Israelites' peaceful dwelling in the promised 
land (which is a type of all spiritual blessings). The phrase "they 
shall be converted" (in verse 4) must be rendered "they shall abide, 
or dwell." Even against Assyria, the most terrible of Israel's ene- 
mies, the Messias will raise up an abundance of defenders (seven and 
eight, spiritual and temporal defenders), who will easily repel any 
hostile attacks. 8. The third Messianic blessing will consist in Is- 
rael's beneficent influence on all nations that are friendly to it, and in 
its destructive power against all nations (Gentiles) hostile to it. 4. 
The fourth Messianic blessing includes several particulars: a. The 
war implements and the fortified places of the promised land will be 
destroyed, so that every reminder of a destructive war will be re- 
moved*, b. All sorceries and divinations will cease, everyone confid- 
ing in the guidance of Israel's Messianic ruler, c. All the groves 


the height of the name of the Lord his God ; and they shall be con- 
verted, for now shall he be magnified even to the ends of the 
earth. And this man shall be our peace, when the Assyrian shall 
come into our land, and when he shall set his foot in our houses, 
and we shall raise against him seven shepherds, and eight princi- 
pal men. And they shall feed the land of Assyria with the sword, 
and the land of Nemrod with the spears thereof; and he shall 
deliver us from the Assyrian when he shall come into our land, 
and when he shall tread in our borders. 

And the remnants of Jacob shall be in the midst of many 
peoples as a dew from the Lord, and as drops upon the grass, 
which waiteth not for man, nor tarrieth for the children of men. 
And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the 
midst of many peoples as a lion among the beasts of the forest, 
and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who when he shall 
go through and tread down, and take, there is none to deliver. 
Thy hand shall be lifted up over thy enemies, and all thy enemies 
shall be cut off. 

" And it shall come to pass in that day," saith the Lord, " that I 
will take away thy horses out of the midst of thee, and will destroy 
thy chariots. And I will destroy the cities of thy land, and will 
throw down all thy strong holds, and I will take away sorceries 
out of thy hand, and there shall be no divinations in thee. And 
I will destroy thy graven things, and thy statues out of the midst 
of thee, and thou shalt no more adore the works of thy hands. 
And I will pi nek up thy groves out of the midst of thee, and will 
crush thy cities. And I will execute vengeance in wrath and in 
indignation among all the nations that have not given ear." 


1. The Messias will not only be of David's royal family 
(II. Kings vii. 14, etc.), but he will also be born in David's 
native city. 

2. The Messias will, however, be distinct from David, in 
having another birth besides the temporal one — a going 
forth from the beginning, from the days of eternity. 

and temples of idol-worship will disappear, so that, all will be loyal 
to the God of Israel, d. Even the Gentiles who have not yielded 
obedience to the Messianic, king will he crushed, so that, Israel will 
dwell securely. 


3. As David came forth from Bethlehem to take away 
the reproach of Israel and free his nation from the Philis- 
tines, so shall the Messias come forth from Bethlehem to 
free his peojjle from its most bitter enemies, the dreaded 
Assyrians, and to lead it back into the land of promise and 
of divine appointment. 

4. This liberation of Israel from the Assyrians is to take 
place when she that travaileth shall bring forth ; Micheas 
thus well interprets the prophecy of Isaias that treats of 
the Virgin Mother. 



Section I. The Blessing of Juda. 

Gen. xlix. 8-12. 

1. Time and Occasion of the Prophecy.— Noe before 
his death pointed out the family of Sem as the bearer 
of the Messianic blessings. The Semites probably kept 
the knowledge and love of the true God sufficiently 
till the time of Abraham, when it became necessary to 
select one branch of Sem's descendants as the chosen 
people. Abraham was so thoroughly impressed with the 
necessity of this step that he sent away all his children 
except Isaac, whom he recognized as the mediator of the 
future Redeemer. In the same manner did Isaac impart 
the peculiar patriarchal blessing to only one of his sons, 
Jacob, so that Esau was excluded from the chosen people 
of God. When we keep these facts in view it seems aston- 
ishing that the dying Jacob does not select any one of 
his sons and make him exclusively the chosen Messianic 
instrument, but blesses all his sons as the fathers of the 
chosen people of God. In place of Joseph he substitutes 
his two eldest sons, Ephraim and Manasses. 

It is also worthy of note that the order in which the 
sons' blessings are described follows on the whole, the 
natural grouping of Jacob's family. First are mentioned 
the six sons of Lia; then follows Dan, the son of Rachel's 
slave, Bala; next come Gad and Ascr, the sons of Lia's slave, 


Zelpha; and these are followed by Bala's second son, Neph- 
tali, and Rachel's own children, Joseph and Benjamin (Gen. 
xxx.). The first three sons, Ruben, Simeon, and Levi, have 
given their father cause for sorrow and reproof : Ruben by 
his illicit intercourse with Bala (Gen. xxxv. 22), and 
Simeon and Levi by their cruel vengeance on the inhabi- 
tants of Sichem (Gen. xxxiv. 14 if.). Thus Juda, the 
fourth son, becomes the bearer of the Messianic promises. 

2. Place of the Prophecy in the Critical Analysis 
OF Genesis.— Driver (Introduction to the Literature of the 
Old Testament, New York, 1892, pp. 16 if.) ascribes Gen. 
xlix. 1-28 to J. Later on the same author illustrates the 
distinction between P and JE, and in particular between J 
and P, by the blessings and promises that form such a con- 
spicuous feature in Genesis. The series of promises ascribed 
to P is contained in Gen. i. 28-30 (Adam); ix. 1-7 (Noe); 
xvii. 6-8 (Abraham); xxviii. 3 f. and xxxv. 11 1, quoted 
in xlviii. 3 (Jacob). To JE belong iii. 15 (the Protevan- 
gelium); ix. 20 (Sem); xii. 1-3 (Abraham); xiii. 14-17; 
xv. 5, 18; xviii. 18; xxii. 15-18; xxvi. 2-5, 24 (Isaac); 
xxvii. 27-29; xxviii. 13-15 (Jacob); xlix. 10 (Juda). The 
promises ascribed to P are said to be cast in the same 
phraseology, and to express frequently the same thought, 
while those assigned to J show a greater variety, and even 
the features which they have in common are entirely dif- 
ferent from the qualities that characterize the promises 
ascribed to P. In the latter prophecies only Israel is con- 
cerned, while the predictions assigned to J regard other 
nations too. However ingeniously this analysis may be 
made, it can claim nothing beyond the merit of a skilful 
hypothesis — not, indeed, in the sense of the modern crit- 
ics, but only in so far as it points out the various sources 
from which Moses may have written the Book of Genesis. 

The other arguments that are usually advanced as 
proving the spurious character of Jacob's dying blessing 
may be reduced to the following heads: a. It contains 
manifest references to future events; b. such a lofty strain 


of poetry and such rich imagery could not have proceeded 
from a superannuated old man on the brink of the grave; 
c. the blessing promised by Jacob could not have been 
handed down verbatim to the time of Moses (Heinrichs, 
Vater, De Wette, Friedrich, Justi, Bleek, etc.). But all 
these exceptions, though they rest on such great authority, 
are hardly solid enough to render the authenticity of 
Jacob's blessing doubtful, a. For the first reason sup- 
poses a priori, as it were, that the foreknowledge of the 
future is impossible, either because God himself does not 
know the future or because he cannot make it known to 
creatures. Both of these assumptions we deny. ft. As to 
the second exception, we need only call attention to the 
fact that Jacob is supposed to have uttered the passage 
under the influence of divine inspiration, which might 
easily supply any deficiency in the human instrument. 
Besides, the simplicity of the patriarchs would naturally 
tend to render their imagination more vivid and more ca- 
pable of poetic conception. The Arabian poet Lebid, who 
reached the age of 157 years, composed a poem even on his 
death-bed. y. Before the time of " Mohammed " the poets 
of his country were often called upon to recite long poetic 
pieces extempore, since the art of writing was at that 
period not practised among the Arab tribes. The poet 
Hareth, e.g., recited extempore his " Moallakah," which is 
still extant, when he was 135 years old. These facts, 
together with the consideration that before the general 
introduction of writing man's memory was more faithful 
because more practised, and that in the case of inspired 
language the same Spirit who had inspired it would also 
give power to preserve it, are sufficient answers to the third 
exception (llengstenb., Christol. i. p. 51). 

3. Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— The Mes- 
sianic application of Jacob's prophecy concerning Juda 
appears: 1. In the Apocalypse v. 5: "And one of the 
ancients said to me: Weep not; behold the lion of the 
tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open 


the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." The lion 
of the tribe of Juda is therefore identical with the Messias; 
but the same is the subject of Jacob's prediction. 

2. Another Messianic note we see in the words of the 
prophecy, "and he shall be the expectation of the nations/' 
It is true that the Hebrew text reads here: "And to him 
the obedience of the nations." But in either case the 
passage contains an evident reference to the Messias, who 
is surely the woman's seed that is to crush the serpent's 
head, and the patriarchal seed in whom all the nations 
shall be blessed. In all truth, then, may he be called the 
expectation of the nations. On the other hand, the Mes- 
sias is described as the star of Jacob and the sceptre which 
shall smite the princes of Moab, as the great theocratic 
king to whom the nations shall belong as his inheritance. 
He is therefore truly called "he to whom shall be the 
obedience of the nations " (cf. Ps. lxxxv. (lxxxvi.) 9; Is. ii. 
2; Ps. xxi. (xxii.) 28, 29; Is. liii. 10; Agg. ii. 7, 8; Mai. i. 
11; Ps. ii. 7, 8; Luke ii. 29-32). Besides all this, Christ 
himself repeatedly testified of himself that all power had 
been given him (Matt, xxviii. 18; xxvi. 13; Mark xvi. 15; 
Rom. xv. 9-12). 

3. The Messianic character of Jacob's blessing imparted 
to Juda is also evident from the tradition of the Samari- 
tans. In the year 1G85 Moffaridj, the chief of the Samari- 
tans, wrote to England : " You have spoken about the great 
prophet of whom the Lord said to Moses : ' I will raise up 
a prophet. . . . He it is whom the nations will obey.' " 
Now they openly declared and admitted that this prophet 
was the Messias (Hathab). CI Notices et extraits des 
manuscrits de la Bibliotheque du Roi, t. xii., p. 28, 209; 
Barges, Les Samaritains de Naplouse, p. 91; Precis histo- 
rian es, 1873, pp. 442-444. 

4. Christian tradition too is unanimous in explaining 
Juda's prophecy of the future Messias. References to the 
patristic testimonies are found in Kilber's Analysis Biblica 
(editio altera, Lutetiae Parisiorum, 1856, I. pp. 39 1). 


5. Jewish and Rabbinic tradition is equally pronounced 
in favor of the Messianic character of Juda's prediction. 
a. Verse 10. The Targum Onkelos has the paraphrase: 
"Until that Messias shall come whose is the kingdom. " 
The Jerusalem Targum renders: " Until the time that king 
Messias shall come whose is the kingdom. " The Targum 
Jonathan reads: "Until the time that king Messias the 
youngest of his children shall come." The Midrash Bere- 
shith Rabba (sect. 98, 99), the Midrash Echa (i.e., on 
Lament, i. 10), refer the expression Shiloh to the Messias. 
That Shiloh was regarded as the name of the Messias is 
attested by the following Talmudic passage (Sanhedrin, 
fol. 98, col. 2) : " What is his name ? They of the school 
of Rab Shila said: His name is Shiloh, as it is written, 
Until Shiloh come. But those of the school of Rabbi 
Yanai said: His name is Yinon, as it is said, Before 
the sun was, his name was Yinon (Ps. Ixxii. 17). They 
of the school of Hanina said: Hanina is his name, as it 
is said, Where I will not show you favor (Jer. xvi. 13). 
And some say: His name is Menachem, the son of Eze- 
chias, as it is said, Because he keeps far from me the 
Comforter, who refreshes my soul (Lam. i. 1G). The 
Rabbis say: His name is the leper of the house of Rabbi, 
as it is said, Surely he hath borne our sickness, and en- 
dured the burden of our pains, yet we did esteem him 
stricken, smitten of God and afflicted" (Is. liii. 4). Bere- 
shith Rabba (sect. 99) gives a Messianic meaning to the 
words, And he shall be the expectation of the nations: 
" The same is meant to whom the prophecy refers, And in 
that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand 
for an ensign of the people" (Is. xi. 10). 

1). Verse 11 is also explained Messianically. The Jerusa- 
lem Targum says: " How fair is King Messias, who is here- 
after to arise from the house of Juda! He girdeth up his 
loins, and goes forth to battle against his foes, smiting 
kings with their princes, reddening their rivers with the 
blood of their slain, and whitening his valleys with the 


fatness of their strength; his garments are dipped in blood; 
lie is like to the treader of grapes." The Targum Jona- 
than speaks almost in the same words. Bereshith Rabba 
(sect. 99) remarks on the words, And his ass, my son, to 
the vine: "This refers to him of whom it is said, Lowly 
and riding upon an ass" (Zach. ix. 9). In the Talmud 
(Berachoth, fol. 57, col. 1) it is said: " Whoever sees a vine 
in his dream will see the Messias, because it is written, 
And his ass, my son, to the vine." Bereshith Rabba 
(98) explains the words, He shall wash his robe in wine, 
as meaning the teaching of the law to Israel, and those 
other words, His garment in the blood of the grape, as 
signifying that he would bring them back from their er- 
rors. One of the Rabbis, however, expresses the oi)inion 
that Israel would not require to be taught by the king Mes- 
sias in the latter days, since it was written (Is. xi. 10) : 
Him the Gentiles shall beseech. If this be so, why will 
the Messias come, and what will he do to the congregation 
of Israel ? He will redeem Israel, and give them thirty 
commandments, according to Zacharias xi. 12. Thus far 
then the Messianic application of Jacob's prophecy is 
clearly contained in Rabbinic tradition. 

c. Verse 12. The Jerusalem Targum renders what is 
translated in our version "his eyes are more beautiful than 
wine" in this manner. "How fair are the eyes of King 
Messias to look upon! more beautiful than the vine, purer 
than to behold with them the uncovering of nakedness, 
and the shedding of innocent blood; his teeth are more 
skilful in the law than to eat with them deeds of violence 
and rapine." The Targum Jonathan almost verbally 
agrees with this rendering. In verse 18 the Messianic ap- 
plication of verse 12 is repeated, although not in express 

d. Verse 9. The expression "lion's whelp" is applied to 
the Messias in Yalkut (1G0) no less than five times; Bere- 
shith Rabba (98) refers also the term "thou hast couched" 
to the Messias. If further argument were needed to show 


that Rabbinic tradition interprets Jacob's blessing of Juda 
Messianically, Ave might refer to the Targum Pseudo-Jona- 
than and Bereshith liabba (98) on verse 1 of Gen. xlix. 
The Targum notes that the end for which the Messias 
would come was not revealed to Jacob, while the Midrash 
says of Jacob and Daniel (xii. 4) that they saw the end, 
and that it was afterwards hid from them. 

Gen. xlix. 8-12. 

1 Juda, thee shall thy brethren praise, 

Thy hand shall be on 2 the neeks of thy enemies, 

The sons of thy father shall bow down to thee. 

Juda is a 3 lion's whelp, 

To the prey my son thou art gone up ; 

Resting thou hast couched as a lion, 

And as a lioness, who shall rouse him ? 

1 Juda. When Lia brought forth Juda, she said : Now will I praise 
the Lord, and therefore she called his name Juda ((ien. xxix. 'Si)). 
Jacob alludes to this primitive meaning of Juda's name, implying 
only that Juda's brethren would take up the strain of Lia's praise. 
His noble behavior at the time when his brethren sold Joseph 
(xxxvii. 22, 26), and again when Benjamin was in apparent danger 
(xliv. 18-34) rendered him worthy to be preferred to the incestuous 
Ruben and the cruel Levi and Simeon. 

- On the necks of thy enemies. Juda is to be victorious over his ene- 
mies and the leading tribe in Israel, his brethren being obliged to do 
him homage. Juda's elevation to be the royal tribe, and David's 
signal victories over his enemies fulfilled these two promises, par- 
tially at least, while both obtained their final accomplishment in the 
victory and the royal dignity of the Messias. 

3 A lion's whelp. Juda is thus compared with the most powerful 
and the most royal of beasts — with the lion retiring to the mountains 
after devouring his prey. The standard of the tribe of Juda was a 
lion, and was probably adopted in accordance with this prophecy. 
We need not notice the opinion of several Rabbinic writers that 
Juda intended to retire on hearing the evil predictions which Jacob 
uttered regarding his three oldest sons, but that the dying father re- 
tained him, and broke forth into the present strain of favorable pre- 
dictions. Others again maintain that Juda had made a confession of 
his intercourse with Thamar (Gen. xxxviii.), and that his father 
praised and blessed him on account of his sincere penitence and hu- 

4 The sceptre. The verb following "sceptre," as it stands in the 
Hebrew text, means either "shall not depart" or "shall not be 
wanting." The context determines which of these significations is 
preferable. Now in the context we read the noun " shebeth," which 


The * sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, 
Nor 5 a ruler from 6 his thigh, 

signifies either " tribe "or " sceptre." Hence we have the two dif- 
ferent renderings : "a tribe descending from Juda shall not be want- 
ing," and " a sceptre shall not depart from Juda." 

Patrizi defends the former of these two renderings for the following 
reasons: 1. The Hebrew word " shebeth " occurs 1G0 times in the 
meaning "tribe," only 40 times in the signification of "sceptre." 2. 
In the very chapter to which our prophecy belongs, "shebeth" sig- 
nifies twice " tribe " (vv. 16, 28) ; hence it is probable that it has the 
same meaning in v. 10. 3. The fulfilment of the prophecy becomes 
clearer if we translate " shebeth " by " tribe" than if we render it 
by "sceptre." For the distinction between the Jewish tribes has 
been forgotten long ago. 4. If we translate " tribe " we obtain a 
beautiful climax in the context, which is lost if we give the other 
meaning to "shebeth." 5. If we render "royal sceptre," the 
prophecy does not predict anything that is peculiar to Juda (cf. (Jen. 
xlix. 28), since the royal power lias belonged to the other tribes of 
Israel as well as to Juda. 0. St. Basil prefers the rendering "tribe" 
to that of " sceptre " (ad. Amphiloch. ep. 236, al. 391). 

But a. it cannot be denied that the authority of only one Father in 
a matter so much disputed as the present passage is of very little 
weight, b. On the other hand, the climax of the passage is not 
entirely lost, even if we translate " shebeth " by " sceptre." For the 
words " from his thigh " add clearness and emphasis to the preced- 
ing line. However, we cannot assume a priori that the passage 
must have such a climax, c. As to the frequency of " shebeth 's " 
meaning " tribe," we fully grant the fact, but deny that therefore 
" shebeth " must have always such a signification, even where the 
context calls for another meaning, d. Though other tribes too have 
wielded the royal power in Israel, Juda has so far outstripped them 
all that the Jews generally looked upon David and Solomon as ideal 
representatives of the theocracy. And this power has as completely 
been taken away from Juda as the distinction between the different 
tribes has disappeared. 

Since then Card. Patrizi's arguments are not altogether unanswer- 
able, we may add a few positive reasons why the rendering " sceptre " 
should be preferred to tha: of " tribe. " 1. The LXX. renders " ruler," 
Aquilas " sceptre," Synnnachus " royal power," Onkelos " one exer- 
cising power," Jonathan " kings and princes," the Jerusalem Targum 
"kings," the Arabian version "rod ; " the Syriac and the Samaritan 
versions are ambiguous in their renderings, but they do not favor the 
meaning "tribe " to the exclusion of the signification " sceptre." 2. 
The context of our passage favors the rendering " sceptre " rather 
than "tribe." For its parallel term is rendered "ruler." 3. We 
must also call attention to the similar passages Num. xxiv. 17 and 
Zach. x. 11, in which "shebeth" is translated "rod" or "sceptre." 
4. If "shebeth" is rendered "tribe," we must translate the whole 
passage " Juda's tribe shall not cease ; " but in the Hebrew text we 
read "the shebeth from Juda," which would be an uncommon con- 
struction to express a tribe descending from Juda. 


Till T he come that is 8 to be sent, 

The word " sceptre," originally denoting a staff of wood, a strong 
rod taken fromatreeand peeled as a wand, is used — 1. For the rod of 
correction (Num. xxiv. 17; Is. ix. 4; Ps. cxxiv. (cxxv.)3; II. Kings vii. 
14, etc.) ; 2. For the staff of a shepherd (Lev. xxvii. 32 ; Ps. xxii. 
(xxiii.) 4) ; 3. For the sceptre of royalty (Ps. xliv. (xlv.) 7 ; Is. xiv. 5 ; 
Ezech. xix. 11 ; Am. i. 5, 8; Zach. x. 11). This last meaning may 
be illustrated by 11. 11, 46, 101 In the present passage the meaning 
which implies or at least signifies the royal power appears to deserve 
decided preference. 

5 Nor a ruler. The term " ruler," in Hebrew "p"pni2 (mechoqeq), is 
parallel to the term "sceptre." Considered grammatically, it is the 
participle Poel of the verb ppn, and signifies therefore " a legislator " 
or the legislator's ensign, " a staff of authority." In Deut. xxxiii. 21, 
where the term "mechoqeq" occurs, its meaning is not clear; in 
Num. xxi. 18 the meaning "rod" or "staff" is preferable;; in 
Judges v. 14 the term is rightly rendered "princes ;" in Is. xxxiii. 
22 its meaning " legislator " is the most obvious. In Ps. lix. (Ix.) 9 
and cvii. (cviii.) 9 the Vulgate renders the term by " leader," but the 
division of the lines appears to be changed from what it must have 
been in the original reading. It ought to read: "... Ephraim is 
the strength of my head, Juda is the staff (on which I lean)." Both 
meanings of " mechoqeq" occur therefore in Sacred Scripture. And 
since the word is in the present passage parallel to " shebeth," the 
signification "ruler's staff " seems to be preferable. 

We cannot omit to mention that Card. Patrizi offers a number of 
exceptions to this interpretation, a. First, he calls attention to the 
fact that it is new ; b. then he insists on the improbability that the 
same word "mechoqeq" should signify "legislator" and "staff of 
power." c. Besides, the Cardinal does not admit the parallelism 
between the meaning "ruler's staff" and the preceding "shebeth," 
since he renders the latter expression by "tribe." d. In Num. xxi. 
18 he translates "mechoqeq" by legislator, and in Ps. lix. (Ix.) 9 he 
paraphrases the passage : " Ephraim's invincible troops, in whom I 
fully trust, and supreme leaders of Juda." It must, however, be 
granted that none of these exceptions creates any great difficulty, so 
that the foregoing explanation may be safely followed. 

6 From his thigh. The Hebrew text reads " from between his feet," 
" inibben raglav." Hence interpreters disagree regarding the precise 
meaning of the passage : 1. Some think that the metaphor of the 
preceding verse is continued in the present, so that we must think of 
Juda's lion holding the sceptre between his claws. But it seems 
more natural to end the metaphor with the preceding verse. 2. 
Others have therefore interpreted the expression as signifying " from 
his seed "or " from his offspring." a. The parallel passage in Deut. 
xxviii. 57, b. as well as the rendering in the Targumim (Onkelos, 
Jonathan, Jerusalem) favors this explanation. But, on the other hand, 
a. the Hebrew expression commonly expresses contempt when it 
means "from his seed," while in the present passage it implies the 
highest blessing ; fj. again, according to this explanation the clause 
'' from between his feet" would have to be referred to the noun 


And he shall be the "expectation of the nations. 

" ruler" or "tribe " rather than to the verb " shall not be taken " or 
"shall not depart." Now in the preceding paragraph we have 
shown that the renderings "ruler" and "tribe" are less probable 
than "sceptre "and "ruler's staff." 3. Interpreters have therefore 
offered a third explanation, which appears to be more satisfactory 
than either of the former two. It may be seen in the Assyrian in- 
scriptions that the kings, when seated on the throne, were accus- 
tomed to hold their sceptre between their feet. This fact has sup- 
plied the dying patriarch with the figure which he applies to Juda. 

1 Till he come. The Hebrew conjunction " f ad-ki," rendered " till," 
is composite; Cajetan, with a few others, has interpreted its 
parts separately, rendering \ul by " for ever" and ki by "because." 
Hence we obtain the reading : "the sceptre shall not depart from 
Juda, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, for ever, because 
he shall come that is to be sent ..." But it must be noted a. that 
in the Hebrew text t ad is separated from what precedes by Athnach, 
one of the greatest disjunctive accents ; b. besides, 'ad is never taken 
adverbially in any part of the Old Testament, and especially when it 
accompanies ki it has always the meaning " until." c. Cajetan's in- 
terpretation has no ancient authority in its favor ; for Onkelos adds 
" for ever " as a mere gloss, since he has immediately after it the com- 
mon rendering "until." 

8 That is to be sent. These Avords render the Hebrew expression 
"shiloh," which has exercised the ingenuity of interpreters consid- 
erably. The reading "shiloh" (Ft^lS) is found in all Hebrew 

codices, except 40, two of which read " shilov " (ib^d) and thirty- 
eight read " shelloh " (~b"d). All printed editions of the Hebrew 
text, excepting one, favor the reading "shiloh." a. Judging then 
from the great care with which the Jews have always been accus 
tomed to guard the text of Scripture, it must be inferred that 
" shiloh" is the proper reading in the present passage, b. The fact 
that some of the old translations suppose the reading " shelloh " may 
be explained as a consequence of the great freedom with which they 
often render the original, c. In the present instance they had an ad- 
ditional motive for their free rendering, because Ezech. xxi. 32 sug- 
gests the meaning of " shelloh." d. Finally, the Hebrew consonan- 
tal text should not be changed without the most serious reasons 
requiring such an emendation. The relative value of these argu- 
ments will appear in all its clearness when we shall speak about the 
reading " shelloh." 

Supposing, then, for the present "shiloh " to be the correct reading, 
it follows — 1. that we must look upon the rendering of St. Jerome as 
defective ; for ' ' he that is to be stmt " requires in the Hebrew text 
"shaluach," a reading which rests on no authority. 2. Bickell, 
Lagarde, Flunk, etc., suppose that "shiloh" is contracted out of 
"sh'iloh" /n^JS'wV the Chaldee passive participle followed by the 
pronominal affix "oh"; hence they rightly translate "his desired 
one." Though this explanation is new, it does not lack intrinsic or 
extrinsic probability. 3. The rendering " his son," as if " shiloh 


Tying 10 his foal to the vineyard, 

consisted of "skil," son, and the pronominal affix "oh" is confined 
to Fs. Jonathan and a few of his followers, hut cannot he defended 
hy any prohable argument (cf. Delitzsch, Neuer Coinm., p. 519). 
There is no word " shil " meaning " son " in the Hebrew language. 
4. Delitzsch, Kurtz, and the Rationalists generally render " shiloh " 
" to Silo." According to this view the whole passage reads : " the 
sceptre shall not he taken from Juda, nor the ruler's staif from between 
his feet, till he come to Silo." The reasons for this rendering may 
be reduced to the following : a. " Shiloh " usually signifies " Silo," 
and in I. Kings iv. 12 (cf. Jos. xviii. 9 ; Judg. xxi. 12 ; I. Kings i. 
21-1. Kings iv. 4) we have a passage, almost verbatim parallel 
to ours, which must be rendered " and he came to Silo ;" b. till the 
ark of the Lord was deposited in Silo, Juda held the primacy among 
the Israelite tribes (cf. Num. i., xxvi.; ii. 3-9; x. 14; vii. 12; Jos. 
xv. 1, and the history of the earliest kings) ; c. this coming to Silo 
constitutes such an important event in the Israelite history that it 
cannot surprise us if it has been the terminus of Jacob's vision (cf. 
Jos. xviii. 1). 

But we find, on the other hand, that very weighty reasons militate 
ngainst this explanation, a. The earliest name of the city was not 
Silo, but Thaanath, so that Ilengstenberg looks upon the name 
Silo as given to the city in memory of Jacob's prophecy (this is 
denied by Delitzsch, 1. c. pp. 520, 521). (5. The primacy of Juda till 
the period indicated was either an honorary one or it was certainly 
not continuous, since during the same period we find Moses the 
Levite and Josue the Ephraimite exercising supreme authority. 
y. Besides the fact that all Jewish and Christian tradition contra- 
dicts such an interpretation, it must also be observed that the 
Chanaanites, who are said to have obeyed Juda, may just as well be 
represented as obedient to the other tribes of Israel, so that such an 
obedience means nothing especially favorable to Juda. 

5. Others again look upon " shiloh" as a common noun, meaning 
"quiet," "tranquillity." According to this interpretation we must 
render the passage : " the sceptre shall not depart from Juda, nor 
the ruler's staff from between his feet, till tranquillity or peace 
comes " (cf. I. Par. xxii. 9 ; Eph. ii. 14 ; Is. ix. 5 ; Mich. v. 5). 
The reason on which this interpretation rests is based on the analo- 
gous derivation of other nouns from verbs; e.g., "kidor" from 
" kadar." But, on the other hand, it is objected that such forms are 
derived only from Piel-forms of verbs, and that the verbs TV'h do not 
admit this manner of noun-formation. In fact, there is a noun 
"shalvah," meaning "tranquillity" or " quiet," derived from the 
verb " shalah." The foundation for this last explanation is therefore 
very weak. 

0. The opinion, finally, that "Shiloh" is a proper name of the 
Messias has many and solid arguments in its favor, a. We have 
already noted that Jewish tradition favors this view, since three Tar- 
gumini (Onkelos, Jonathan, Jerusalem), the Midrash Bereshith tiabba 
(sect. 98, 99), the Midrash Echa (Lam. i. 10), the Talmudic treatise 
Sanhedrin (fol. 9b, col. 2), agree with the later Jewish writers 


And his ass, O my son, to the vine, 

Jarchi, Moses, and Abarbanel in making Shiloh a name of the 
Messias. b. Etymologically considered, Shiloh may be explained as a 
shortened form for Shilon, as Salomon is a shortened form for Salomon. 
The form Shilon may then be derived from the verb " shalah," and 
signify " peaceful." A comparison with Ps. lxxi. (lxxii.) 3, 7 ; 
lxxxiv. (lxxxv.) 11 ; Is. ix. 6 ; Mich. v. 5 ; Luke i. 79 ; Eph. ii. 14, 
17 ; and the striking parallelism existing between Gen. xlix. 8, 10 and 
Is. xi. 1, 6-10 (Ezech. xxi. 32) render such a view of Shiloh very 
probable. As to the Samaritans, we must grant the fact that they 
make Shiloh a proper name of Solomon, the great enemy of the 
Mosaic law ; but, at the same time, they fully agree with us in con- 
sidering the word as a proper name. 

Thus far we have regarded the reading " Shiloh " as the prefer- 
able one. But the other principal reading, ' ' shelloh " has also a great 
many arguments in its favor, a. It is found in 38 of de Kossi's 
codices, and the Hebrew- Samaritan text too is decidedly in its favor. 
b. If we except St. Jerome, all the other ancient versions suppose the 
reading "shelloh "in their rendering (LXX., Aquilas, Symmachus, 
the Syriac, Onkelos, the Jerusalem Targuui, Abu Said in the Samari- 
tan version, Saadias in the Arabic rendering). All of these versions 
suppose the word " shelloh " to consist of the relative " sh," E3, the 
preposition b, and the pronominal suffix ft ; some of them suggest that 
a word must be supplied, c. The following considerations may be 
added to what has thus far been advanced : a. The pronominal suffix 
T\ occurs instead of i twice in the very context of the prophecy (v. 11), 
so that the unusual form cannot create any surprise, /j. The form 
"sh," w, for the relative pronoun occurs as early as Gen. vi. 3; 
Judges vi. 17 ; v. 7, so that the dying patriarch may well have used 
the same form. Etymologically speaking, " shelloh " presents there- 
fore no unanswerable difficulties. d. Nor can it be said that 
" shelloh " might have easily been written instead of " shiloh " on 
account of the diminutive size of the letter yodh ■" ; for the letter 
yodh, as written in the ancient Hebrew alphabet, is as large as any 
of the other consonants. On the other hand, the insertion of yodh 
into the consonant text is easily explained. It may be looked upon 
as substituted by an error of the transcriber instead of the Daghesh 
forte in Lamedh (?). Jahn has shown that such a transcriber's error 
is not without parallel (cf. Ps. xxi. (xxii.) 17.) e. The Greek Fathers, 
who follow the LXX. version, together with the old Latin Fathers 
who use the Itala, favor the reading "shelloh." Similar arguments 
may be drawn from Gal. iii. 19 ; Ezech. xxi. 32 (Vulg. 27). 

a. It is true that the greater number of the Hebrew manuscripts 
have the reading " shiloh." But it should be kept in mind that the 
oldest of them does not date beyond the ninth century after Christ. 
(3. The exception that the clause " asher lo " (ib TDK) nowhere oc- 
curs in Sacred Scripture without having the noun expressed to which 
the relative refers, is not wholly correct in its statement ; for IV. 
Kings vi. 11 may be considered as an instance to the contrary, y . 
Finally, the assertion that the reading " shelloh " gives a cold mean- 
ing to the passage is wholly unfounded; to describe the Messias as 


He shall wash his robe in wine, 

one to whom the sceptre and the ruler's staff belong is surely not to 
detract from his Messianic prerogatives. 

Since the reading " shelloh " is, therefore, at least as probable as 
the reading "shiloh," we must next inquire into its exact meaning. 
Concerning this interpreters have differed in opinion: a. Many think 
that something must be supplied before the clause, e.g., "that," or 
" all," or " he ; " hence we obtain the explanations: " until that come 
which belongs to him," or " until all come that belongs to him," or 
" until he come who belongs to him." The first of these three mean- 
ings is adopted by the LXX. {ra drtoKeiiteva tu'rcj), the second has 
its parallel in Gen. xxiv. 30; the third may be compared with ('ant. 
i. G, IV. Kings vi. 11 ; grammatically considered any one of these 
three explanations is admissible, though exegetically none of them is 
desirable on account of the cold and jejune meaning they bear. 

b. Another explanation supposes that something must be supplied 
after "shelloh" — either the "sceptre" and the "ruler's staff," or a 
pronoun referring back to these nouns. According to this view the 
meaning of the passage is: "until become to whom sceptre and 
ruler's staff belong." As to the grammatical construction, it has its 
parallel in Lev. xxvii. 24; Ezech. xxi. 32. Most of the ancient ver- 
sions seem to have interpreted the prophecy in this sense, and the 
prophet Ezechiel must have taken the same view of Jacob's dying 
words. Besides, this explanation fits in well with the idea of the 
Messias, since it describes him as the rightful heir of sceptre and rul- 
er's staff. It thus agrees well with Matt, xxviii. 18 ; Luke i. 32 ; 
Jo. xviii. 37 ; Ps. ii. 6-9, etc. The poetic setting of Jacob's blessing 
is well calculated to explain the apparent irregularity of language 
involved in this explanation (cf. Ps. ii. 9 ; lxxi. (lxxii.) 2 ; Luke xxii. 
39 ; I. Cor. xv. 25 ; Apoc. xix. 13-16). 

9 The expectation of the nations. The Heb. text requires that we 
render either "the gathering of the nations" or "the obedience of 
the nations." It is clear from Ps. ii. 7, 8, 9 ; xliv. (xlv.) 3-7; Jo. 
xviii. 37 ; Matt, xxviii. 18, 19 ; Luke i. 32, 33 ; Matt. i. 20, 21 that 
this obedience is a spiritual and supernatural obedience. The natu- 
ral connection of the phrase supposes that this obedience is due to the 
"Shiloh" of the preceding clause, and not to Juda, though some 
interpreters refer it to the latter. Wellhausen goes so far as to omit 
the first words, " and to him," in the Hebrew text ; hence he obtains 
the rendering : " until he come to whom is due the obedience of the 

10 Tying his foal. Explanations : 1. The literal sense of these 
words and of those that follow refers to the fruitfulness of Juda's 
territory. Resting in unalterable peace, Juda's descendants will tie 
their beasts of burden to the common vine, and the young ones of 
their beasts of burden to the choicest kind of vine ; wine will be so 
abundant in Judea that it will be used instead of water, and even the 
natural features of the children of Juda will be affected by the abun- 
dance of wine. Those Catholics who adhere to this explanation Apply 
the prophecy in its typical sense to the Messias. 2. Other Catholics 
apply the prediction in its literal, though in its metaphorical, sense 


And his garment in the blood of the grape. 
His eyes are more beautiful than wine, 
And his teeth whiter than milk. 


1. The exact meaning of the present prophecy depends 
on the rendering of the Hebrew words "shebeth," 
"mechoqeq," " f ad ki," and on the nature of the obedience 

a. It follows from our explanation of " shebeth " and 
" mechoqeq " that whether we take them in the sense of 

to the Messias : a. Ephrem, Justin, and Cyril maintain that the 
clauses "tying his foal . . ." refer to the triumphal entrance of 
Jesus into Jerusalem (Zach. ix. 9). h. Others are of opinion that the 
vine represents the (Synagogue, while the "foal" and the "ass" 
represent the collection of the Gentiles. Hence Jesus ties his foal to 
the vine because he has brought the Gentiles to the true faith of the 
Synagogue, c. The "wine and the blood of the grape" are the 
blood of Christ, while the "robe" and the "garment" are his hu- 
man nature. The whole clause describes, therefore, the suffering of 
Jesus Christ for the redemption of the world (Tertullian, Hippolytus, 
Novatian, Ambrose, Chrysostom, (iaudentius of Brescia, Paulinus, 
Theodoret, Cyril of Alexand., Isidore Hispal., Photius ; cf. Lamy, 
in Gen. p. 378). d. According to others, again, the wine and the 
blood of the grape have the same meaning as in the preceding pas- 
sage, while the robe and the garment signify not the human nature of 
the Word Incarnate, but the Church and the collection of the Gen- 
tiles who will be converted to Christ. Thus the passage directly 
indicates that all the redeemed will be washed in the blood of the 
lamb (Hippolytus, Ambrose, Isidore, Justin, Origen, Rufinus, Augus- 
tine, Athanasius). This explanation appears to have parallel pas- 
sages in Is. xlix. 18; lxiii. 1-2 ; Apoc. xix. 13. Patrizi endeavors to 
exclude all literal reference of the passage to the land of Juda from 
the fact that this country was in no way remarkable for it fertility. 
It may also be added that those who refer the "tying of the foal" 
to Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem believe either that there 
was a vine near the temple to which Jesus tied the animal after he 
had entered the city, or else they think that the beast was tied to a 
vine when the disciples went to loose him. 

"His eyes are more beautiful. The words may be rendered either: 
"His eyes are more beautiful (blacker, more sparkling, redder) than 
wine, and his teeth whiter than milk "or "his eyes are sparkling 
(beautiful, etc.) from wine, and his teeth are white from milk." Ex- 
planations: 1. The fertility of the land is thus described (Vigouroux); 
2. Christ's bodily beauty is thus foretold ; 3. Christ's doctrine is thus 
represented as most attractive and beautiful (Ephrem); 4. the beauty 
of Christ's body after his resurrection is predicted (Theodoret). 


" tribe and ruler," or in the more probable meaning of 
"sceptre and ruler's staff," they promise in any case po- 
litical power to the tribe of Juda. We do not grant that 
this political power means necessarily royal authority ; for 
the royal dignity ceased in Juda with Jechonias and Sede- 
cias (though it was temporarily revived in Zorobabel), while 
political influence remained in the tribe till about the 
time of Christ's birth. Even during the })eriod of the 
Babylonian captivity, this power was not entirely taken 
away, as appears from the trial of Susanna (Dan. xiii. 5). 
At the later period of the Machabees, of the Asmoncans 
and the Ilerodians, the tribe of Juda was so prominent 
that the whole remaining nation was named after it, and 
the members of the Sanhedrin were to a great extent 
taken from its ranks. The tribe's political importance 
may be considered as extinct either at the time when Judea 
became a full Roman province, after the deposition of 
Archelaus, or, at any rate, after the destruction of Jerusa- 
lem by Titus. 

b. This agrees with the double rendering of which " r ad 
ki " is susceptible. For whether we understand it as meaning 
" until," or in the sense of " for ever, because," it implies 
that Juda's political influence is to cease at the coming of 
the Messias. Though the word "until" does not of 
itself imply the cessation of the action or of the state to 
which it refers (cf. Matt. i. 25; Dent, xxxiv. G), still in the 
present passage it indicates negatively such a cessation of 
Juda's political prominence. For the latter is implied in 
the following words of the promise. If the acceptation " for- 
ever, because " be preferred, the eternity of Juda's rule is 
based on the coining of the Messias, and on his universal 
rule. Hence, in this case, too, the merely political influence 
of Juda will end with the Messias. All this will happen 
connectedly, so that Juda's political power will form the 
type of which the Messias will be the antitype. The 
latter is, therefore, truly represented as the lion of Juda's 
tribe, who retires to his mountain fastnesses after the cap- 


ture of his booty (cf. Apoc. v. 5, 9, 10). The promise made 
to David (II. Kings vii. 14) is very similar to Juda's 

c. It has been stated that instead of the clause " expec- 
tation of the nations " we must render, "unto him shall be 
the obedience of the nations." Most probably the "him" 
of this clause refers to the preceding " Shiloh," and there- 
fore directly to the Messias. But even if we admit the 
other possible reference of " him " to Juda, this patriarch 
is a well-known type of the Messias; and what has been 
partially fulfilled in Juda will find its final and entire ac- 
complishment in the person of the Messias. 

d. This is the more true since the obedience of which 
Jacob speaks is a spiritual obedience, as may be seen in 
Ps. ii. 7, 8, 9; xliv. (xlv.) 3-7; Jo. xviii. 37; Matt, xxviii. 
18, 19; Luke i. 32, 33; Matt. i. 20, 21. A spiritual obe- 
dience was due to the Messias by right as soon as a Church 
was founded which was to embrace in its fold all the nations 
of the earth (Matt, xxviii. 19; Eom. iii. 22). In point of 
fact, the general obedience of the nations was paid to 
Christ as soon as the Christian faith was preached to all the 
peoples of the earth (Rom. x. 18; i. 8). 

2. Is the Messias to be of Juda's tribe ? The dying pa- 
triarch does not state explicitly that the Messias is to de- 
scend from his son Juda. But if the whole context of the 
prediction be considered, this privilege is at least impli- 
citly foretold in Jacob's blessing. For the whole passage 
referring to Juda is full of praise and blessing for that 
patriarch. Now, if the promised Messias were not to be of 
Juda's seed, the prophecy would be rather against than in 
favor of Juda, since it would announce that at some future 
time Juda would lose his sceptre and ruler's staff, which 
must pass over to the Messias, and in him to the tribe of 
his birth. 

3. The contemporaries of Juda could infer from this 
prophecy that his special tribe would have the primacy 
among the Israelites until, at some future time, a prince 


should be born who would own all power and dignity, 
and who would be honored by the voluntary obedience of 
many nations and peoples. By comparing this prediction 
with the previous Messianic prophecies, the devout Israelite 
could infer with the greatest probability that this prince of 
Juda's tribe would be the seed of the woman by whose 
agency the serpent's head would be crushed, and the seed 
of the patriarchs in whom all the nations of the earth were 
to be blessed. Hence they might expect by virtue of the 
prophecy a mighty prince springing from the family of 
Juda, who would bring most of the nations to his obedience, 
and who would, by means of this obedience, procure for 
them all manner of supernatural blessings. 

4. Omitting the rationalistic views which have been 
stated in the explanation of the text, we must draw atten- 
tion to the fact that from Jacob's prophecy may be drawn 
an invincible argument against the Jews. For even if we 
do not insist on the minute points of agreement between 
prophecy and fulfilment, which might perhaps be ques- 
tioned by our opponents, it is at least certain that the scep- 
tre and the ruler's staff have passed away from the favored 
tribe, and that therefore the " Shiloh," in whatever sense 
the word may be taken, must have come before our time. 
Nor can it be said that Jacob's prediction was wholly con- 
ditional, the condition of "Shiloh's" coming being the 
faithfulness of Israel. In the prophecy itself there is no 
vestige of such a condition; its assumption is, therefore, 
a gratuitous subterfuge. At most it might be granted 
that the political supremacy promised to Juda would be 
interrupted for a time on account of the sins of the people; 
but the whole order of God's supernatural providence, 
which he had several times unconditionally predicted, could 
certainly not be rendered void by human malice. 


Section II. Daniel's Seventy Weeks. 

Dan. ix. 22-27. 

1. Time and Occasion of the Prophecy.— In the first 
year of Darius the Mede, in the sixtieth year of the Baby- 
lonian captivity, Daniel, considering that the seventy years 
of desolation foretold by Jeremias (xxv. 11; xxix. 10) were 
drawing to their close, implores God in fervent prayer to for- 
give the people's sin, and to look favorably upon his ruined 
sanctuary (vv. 1-19). The angel Gabriel appears to Daniel 
and lifts up his thoughts from the seventy years of the cap- 
tivity to the seventy weeks that must elapse till the -Mes- 
sianic redemption will arrive. The entire period of seventy 
weeks is divided into three periods, consisting of seven, 
and sixty-two, and one week, respectively. It is foretold 
that in seven weeks after the issuing of the command to 
restore the city Jerusalem will be rebuilt, though in 
straitened times; that at the end of the sixty-two weeks 
elapsed after the seven weeks, an anointed one, a ruler, will 
appear; that finally an anointed one will be cut off, and 
the people of a prince that shall come will desolate the 
city and the sanctuary, and he will make a covenant with 
many in one week, -and during half of this week (or about 
the middle of this week) sacrifice and oblation will cease 
until the end come, and the divinely decreed consumma- 

2. Unchristian Explanations ' of the Prophecy.— a. 
The command to restore Jerusalem is the divine promise 
given through Jeremias (xxxi. 38 ff.) for the rebuilding of 
the city (B.C. 588) ; the anointed prince is Cyrus (B.C. 538; cf. 
Is. xlv. 1 ; xliv. 28); the "straitened times" refers to the de- 
pressed state of the community (b.c. 538-172); the anoint- 
ed one is the high-priest Onias III., deposed in 175 B.C., 
assassinated in 172 B.C. (cf. II. Mach. iv.); the people of 
the coming prince, etc., alludes to the attacks made on Je- 


rusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes, to the willing allies whom 
lie found among the renegade Jews, to his suspension of 
the temple services, and the destruction which finally over- 
took him (164 B.C.). In the beginning of the prophecy 
the Messianic age is described which will succeed the per- 
secutions of Antiochus, while the anointing of the Most 
Holy alludes to the re-dedication of the altar of burnt- 
offerings (165 B.C.). 

1. Driver is right in admitting that one of the chief ob- 
jections to this interpretation is that the period from B.C. 
538 to 172 is only 366 years — not 434, or 62 weeks. To say 
that we do not know how the author computed his years, 
or what chronology he followed, is equivalent to acknowl- 
edging that the difficulty is unanswerable. 2. The paral- 
lelism between Dan. ix. 265-27 and vii. 25 is not so great 
as to necessitate the above explanation in spite of its in- 
superable difficulties. 3. Nor can such a necessity be in- 
ferred from the fact that Antiochus is the principal figure 
in the whole section of Daniel to which the present proph- 
ecy belongs. 4. It is true that Schiirer (The Jewish Peo- 
ple in the Time of Jesus Christ, II. iii. p. 54) offers sev- 
eral instances in which the Jewish historian Josephus and 
the Jewish Hellenist Demetrius miscalculate chronological 
dates by nearly the same number of years that is wanting in 
the preceding explanation of Daniel's prophecy. But it must 
be well noted that both of these historians evidently com- 
mitted a chronological blunder— an imputation which Cath- 
olics cannot admit against Daniel, whom Schiirer and the 
other writers of his school consider merely an author who 
endeavors to explain the seventy years occurring in Jere- 
mias' prophecy of seventy weeks of years. 5. There is 
another difficulty that Driver does not state: Jeremias in 
his prophecy, which speaks of the seventy years, has noth- 
ing at all about the rebuilding of the city, and the proph- 
ecy itself was issued in the fourth year of Joakim, i.e., 
606 B.C. (Jer. xxv. 1; cf. xxv. 11), while the year of Cyrus' 
edict is 536 B.C.— a period of 10, not of 7, weeks after the 


prophecy. 6. After all these considerations we need 
not add that the supposition of two Christs, or Anointed 
Ones, is hardly called for by the wording of the prophecy. 
7. Though Calmet adheres to this interpretation of the 
literal meaning of the prophecy, and in spite of such author- 
ities as Hitzig, van Lennep (De 70 jaarweken van Daniel, 
Utrecht, 1888), and Cornill (Die siebzig Jahrwochen 
Daniels, 1889), we must state that this view appears to us 
wholly unsatisfactory. 

b. According to Wieseler (Die 70 Woche und die G3 
Jahrwoche des Propheten Daniels; cf. Corluy, Spicil., pp. 
506 f.) the anointed prince and the anointed one signify 
the same person, i.e., the high-priest Onias. The coming 
prince is Antiochus, who conquered the holy city, profaned 
the temple, interrupted the sacrifices for three years and 
a half, i.e., for half a week, and who finally entered into 
an unholy alliance with many Jews for seven years, after 
which period he died in a hostile invasion (cf. I. Mach. i. 
11, 22,23,45,57; vi. 1-9; II. Mach. v. 11-27; vi.4; ix. 4). 
The following are the principal arguments for Wieseler's 
interpretation : 1. The general agreement of times and 
events with the terms of the prediction; 2. the parallelism 
of Dan. ix. 24 ff. and vii. 24, 25; xii. 7, 11, 12; vii. 2G; 
3. the abomination of desolation in the temple, which is 
foretold, is in Dan. xi. 31 identified with the idol-worship 
introduced into the temple by Antiochus; 4. another 
argument is taken from the Messianic blessings which 
Daniel describes in the beginning of his prophecy: the 
remission of sin, the sealing of the vision, and the anointing 
of the saint of saints. For Jer. 1. 18-20 speaks about the 
end of sin and everlasting justice as arriving at the end of 
the Babylonian captivity; the sealing of vision and prophecy 
will happen about the same time, since the prophecy of 
which there is question is none other than that of Jeremias, 
concerning which Daniel was inquiring (cf. Dan. ix. 2; 
Jer. xxv. 11; xxix. 10); the holy of holies was anointed 
at the same time by the consecration of Zorobabel's 


temple; 5. the words "and there is none to him" are 
quite applicable to Onias, who had no successor in the 
office of highpriest; G. finally, the "wing" or "the height 
of abomination " (Heb.) is equally applicable to the pol- 
luted altar. 

But this explanation does not agree with the true chronol- 
ogy, a. It is true that Cyrus'' decree, to which reference 
is made in Is. xlv. 13, and which is presupposed by Agg. i. 
4, implicitly contains the permission to restore the city, 
.since it allows the Jews explicitly to rebuild the temple. 
But this decree was issued in 538 or in 53G B.C., while the 
high priest Onias was deposed in 175 B.C., and killed three 
years later. Hence there is only an interval of 3G3 years 
between the decree and its supposed fulfilment, b. Besides, 
the deposition and death of Onias are hardly of sufficient 
importance to form the term of Daniel's prophecy, c. 
Again, the prophecy does not suppose that the coming 
leader will be killed; for in that case, the anointed 
prince of whom there is question in verse 25, and who 
is killed in verse 26, is again introduced as acting in 
verse 27 — a process that can hardly be verified in the case 
of a mere man. d. The parallelism between the present 
prophecy and other passages of Daniel in which the prophet 
treats of Antiochus is sufficiently explained by the real 
analogy of events, even if ix. 24 ff. is a Messianic predic- 
tion, e. If the abomination of desolation was in the 
temple at the time of Antiochus, it was there not less 
truly at the time of the Roman invasion under Titus. 
/. Moreover, it is not certain that the abomination of 
desolation necessarily refers to idolatry, since it may well 
be understood of the Jewish sins which were the cause 
of the temple's destruction, g. Vision and prophecy 
cannot refer to the prediction of Jeremias .alone, 
because the whole collection of his predictions was not 
sealed and put out of use, as it were, by the fulfilment 
ot this particular prophecy, h. Everlasting justice did 
certainly not come at the time of Onias, since even after 


his time the people of Israel was afflicted by reason of its 
transgressions (II. Mach. vi. 12 f.). t. Neither the first 
nor the second temple was anointed ; hence the anointing 
of the holy of holies cannot be explained in this manner. 
The anointing must be understood metaphorically of the 
outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Ghost or, at least, of a 
special theocratic mission (cf. Ps. xliv. (xlv.) 8; Is. lxi. 1; 
I. Pet. ii. 5, 9; I. Jo. ii. 20, 27; Acts iv. 27; x. 38; II. Cor. 
i. 21; I. Kings xvi. 13, 14). k. Besides, all these privileges, 
the sealing of prophecy, the end of sin, and the anointing 
of the holy of holies, were predicted as occurring not before 
but after the seventy weeks. 

c. After considering the more commonly accepted theories 
of Daniel's prophecy at greater length, we state briefly 
some of the other explanations that have found any 
distinguished adherents. According to Ewald, the 
anointed prince is Cyrus, the anointed one that will be 
killed is Seleucus IV. Philopator, the brother of Antiochus 
Epiphanes, who was poisoned. Finally, the coming leader 
is Antiochus himself. Kosenmullers interpretation does 
not differ much from Ewald's, except that the anointed 
one who must be killed is Alexander the Great. The 
arguments brought against the preceding opinions are 
valid against the last two also. This applies equally to the 
view expressed by Briggs (Messianic Prophecy, p. 423), 
according to which some of the Fathers and many recent 
interpreters regard the prophecy as referring to the de- 
velopment of the kingdom of God, from the end of the 
exile to the fulfilment of the kingdom at the second advent. 
The meaning of the word " weeks," compared with the 
historical events, renders this explanation wholly im- 

3. Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— a. The 
LXX. translators seem to have understood DaniePs prophecy 
as predicting only a restoration of the holy city, followed 
by another Gentile conquest of the same, which in turn 
will be succeeded by a long prosperous theocratic rule and 


end with a final irreparable destruction. Probably the 
first Gentile conquest was by them identified with the in- 
vasion of Antiochus, and the second they would have 
hardly distinguished from the Roman inroad under Titus. 
A similar view is represented in the few Rabbinic passages 
which refer to Daniel's prophecy at all. In Naz. 32 b it 
is noted that the prediction refers to the destruction of 
Jerusalem, or rather to the time when the second temple 
was to be destroyed. The same interpretation is found in 
Yalkut, vol. ii. p. 79 d, line lGth, etc., from the bottom. 

b. From the New Testament, however, we may infer 
that the Jews at the time of Christ understood the prophecy 
as applying to the Messianic time. For Christ, in applying 
the prediction to the city's destruction by the Romans, 
speaks in such a manner that the apostles must have been 
quite familiar with this explanation of the prophecy. And 
since, immediately after, Jesus warns his disciples against 
false Christs, we have reason to infer that the apostles 
understood the prediction as referring to the true Christ. 

c. Flavius Josephus (B. J. IV. vi. 3) testifies that the 
prophecy was understood of the ruin and destruction of 
Jerusalem. " And they fulfilled," he writes, "the prophecy 
given out against the fatherland. For there existed an 
old tradition among men, that at some future time the 
city should be destroyed and the sanctuary should be burnt 
by right of war, when a sedition should have arisen, and 
their own hands should have polluted the sanctuary of 
God; the unbelieving zealots made themselves the willing 
instruments of all this." The Jews must therefore have 
applied the prediction to the Roman inroad into Palestine. 

d. It is certain that at the time of Christ the Jews gen- 
erally expected the advent of the promised Messias. This 
we see both from Sacred Scripture and from profane 
historians (cf. Jo. iv. 25; Luke ii. 25; xix. 11; xxv. 51; 
Tacitus, Histor. v. 13; Sueton., Vespas. 4). The older 
Rabbinic writers too, as Solomon Jarchi, etc., maintain 
that the time of the Messias had been announced in Dan- 


iel's prophecy, but in order to avoid the argument urged 
against them by the Christians, they said that the predic- 
tion had been conditional, its fulfilment depending on the 
state of the Jews at the time determined. Since, therefore, 
the Jews at that time were unworthy of the promised 
redemption, the Messias did not appear. 

e. If we turn to the Christian Church, we find that 
her founder was not alone in the Messianic interpretation 
of Daniel ix. 24 if.; the oldest testimony after the Gospel 
account dates from the second century after Christ, and is 
contained in the Testament of the Patriarchs. In the 
Testament of Levi we have the following passage: "And 
now I know from the Book of Daniel that you will err for 
seventy weeks, and sin against the priesthood, and pollute 
the sacrifices, and destroy the law, and despise the words 
of the prophet; in your perversity you will persecute the 
just ones, and hate the pious, and abominate the sayings 
of the truthful, and call him a heretic who will restore the 
power of the law by the strength of the Most High. 
Finally, you will slay him, not being aware of his resurrec- 
tion, and you will bring his innocent blood maliciously 
upon your own heads. On his account your sanctuary shall 
be deserted, shall be profaned down to its very foundations, 
and your place shall no longer be holy; you shall be cursed 
among the Gentiles, and despair shall afflict you, until he 
shall visit you again, and in his mercy receive you in faith 
and in water." 

/. Many of the oldest Fathers omit the mention of 
Daniel's prophecy in their polemic and apologetic treatises; 
for in these writings they could employ only those predic- 
tions that were acknowledgedly Messianic. Reusch (Theo- 
logische Quartalschrift, 18G8, pp. 535 ff.) has summarized 
the patristic literature referring to this prophecy in a 
masterly way, and from this work it appears that the 
Fathers were in no way unfamiliar with the Messianic in- 
terpretation of Daniel's prediction, a. Clement of Alexan- 
dria (Strom, i. 21, 125 ff.) quotes the entire passage of 


Theodotion: the saint of saints is Christ; the beginning of 
the seventy weeks coincides with the end of the Babylonian 
captivity; the last tueek coincides with the destruction of 
Jerusalem by the Romans; of the public life and the death 
of Christ the Father says nothing, fi. Origen has a double 
interpretation of the beginning of the seventy weeks: Je- 
rome (In Dan. ix.) represents him as making the first year 
of Darius the Mede the beginning of the prophetic period, 
but it must be confessed that Origen himself (In Matt., n. 
40) follows an entirely different method: the single weeks 
comprise 70 years, and they begin with the history of Adam, 
ending with the destruction of Jerusalem; the half of the 
week consists consequently of 35 years, so that the last half 
begins with the public life of Jesus and ends with Judea's 
ruin; the anointed leader is Jesus Christ, who spiritually 
restores Jerusalem and ends the times allowed to the Jew- 
ish nation, y. Irena^us (Ilaer. V. xxv. 3, 4) makes the 
seventy weeks end with the end of the world; the half of 
the week is explained according to Dan. vii. 25, so that it 
refers to the persecution of Antichrist. o\ llippolytus 
(Int. Dan. ix. 2) begins the seventy weeks in the twenty- 
first year of the seventy years of Jeremias (Dan. ix. 2); the 
anointed leader he identifies with Jesus the son of Josedec; 
the sixty-two weeks he places between the end of the Babylo- 
nian caj)tivity, i.e., the year 53G B.C., and the nativity of 
Jesus. The last week is supposed to precede the end of 
the world, its first half being assigned to the preaching of 
Enoch and Elias, its second half to the persecution of 
Antichrist. e. Julius African us (ap. Euseb. Demonst. 
Evang. viii. 2, 46) begins the seventy weeks in the twen- 
tieth year of Artaxerxes, whreh in his opinion is the fourth 
year of the 83d olympiad; he ends the prophetic weeks in 
the sixteenth year of Tiberius — according to Jerome (In 
Dan. ix.) in the fifteenth — i.e., the second year of the 202d 
olympiad. C. Tertullian has again a different way of 
reckoning: beginning with the first year of Darius the 
Mede, whom he mistakes for Darius Nothus (424-404), he 


counts 437^ years to the birth of Christ (i.e., 62| weeks) ; 
the remaining 74 weeks intervene between Christ's birth 
and the destruction of Jerusalem (Adv. Jud. 8 and 11). 
It appears from the manner in which he begins his compu- 
tation that he considers Christ's birth and passion as well 
as the destruction of Jerusalem as being predicted in 
Daniel's prophecy, if. Eusebius has given various expla- 
nations of Daniel's prophecy. In one place he agrees with 
the foregoing opinion of Julius Africanus (Demon. Evang. 
VIII. ii. 4G); in another passage he begins the seventy 
weeks with the return of the exiles under Cyrus; seven 
weeks he counts till the restoration of the temple in the 
sixth year of Darius Hystaspis (51G), and the following G2 
weeks bring us to the death of the anointed leader Alexan- 
der Jannanis, and to the capture of Jerusalem by Pompey 
(Demon. Evang. VIII. ii. 55-79). A third opinion the writer 
proposes in Demon. Evang. (VIII. ii. 80): beginning with 
the second year of Darius Hystaspis (520 B.C.), the sixty- 
nine weeks end at the birth of our Lord; the cessation of 
the anointed signifies the end of the legitimate succession of 
highpriests; the last week is separated from the rest of the 
series, so that its first half embraces the public life of 
Christ, while its second half abrogates the worship of the 
Old Testament, and brings on the abomination of desolation 
by the passion and death of Jesus Christ. $. This last ex- 
planation of Eusebius is found also in the writings of Cyril 
of Jerusalem, i. Apollinaris of Laodicea (Jerome, in Dan. 
ix.) begins from the birth of our Lord and ends at the end 
of the world; the preaching of Enoch and Elias will fill 
one half of the last week, and the persecutions of Antichrist 
the other half. k. Chrysostom (Adv. Jud. v. 9) begins 
his reckoning from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, 
between which and the destruction of the Jewish state by 
Pompey and Vespasian he counts the G9 years, without 
mentioning the Messianic bearing of the prophecy. A. Isi- 
dore of Pelusium is noted for the same silence (Ep. iii. 249). 
/a. Basil (Or. 38) begins with the complete restoration of 

308 BlliTlI OF THE MESSIA8. 

Jerusalem in the twenty-eighth year of Xerxes; for according 
to the erroneous computation of Josephus, Nehemias came 
to Judea under Xerxes. From that period to the resurrec- 
tion of Christ the Father counts 483 years; he explains the 
last week as employed in the founding of the Church after 
Christ's ascension, and identifies the abomination of deso- 
lation with the statue of Caligula erected in the temple 
at Jerusalem. v. Theodoret (In Dan. ix.) begins with 
the twentieth year of Artaxerxes; the sixty-nine weeks 
end at the beginning of Christ's public life, while the sixty- 
two weeks bring us to John Hyrcanus, under whom the 
legitimate succession of priests ceased. Theodoret repre- 
sents the death of Christ and the abrogation of the Jewish 
worship as happening in the middle of the last week, and 
the destruction of Jerusalem he rightly regards as not 
forming part of the prophetic era. In his computation he 
employs lunar years. £,. Ephrem (Oper. Syr. Ed. Rom. i. 
221) is not concerned about the numbers, but maintains 
emphatically that the prophecy has a Messianic significa- 
tion. Even the coming leader is Christ Jesus, o. Jerome 
and Augustine contend that Daniel's prophecy determines 
the time of the Messias, of his coming and his suffering, 
but they decline to enter into any calculations (Aug. Epist. 
189, al. 79). 

Dan. ix. 22-27. 

And he (Gabriel) instructed me, and spoke to me, and said : 
"O Daniel, 1 am now come forth to teach thee, and that thou 
mightst understand. From the beginning of thy prayers the 
word came forth, and I am come to show it to thee, because thou 
art a man of desires : therefore do thou mark the word, and un- 
derstand the vision. 1 Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy 

1 Seventy weeks. The Hebrew word rendered "week" properly 
signifies the number seven ; but by common usage it has come to 
mean seven spaces of time of equal length, i.e., a week. a. It is evi- 
dent from the contents that in the present passage there can be no 
question of the common week of d«ys. b. Since in the beginning 
of the present chapter (ix. 2) there is question of the seventy years 
spoken of by Jeremias, it is probable that in our prophecy seventy 


people, and upon thy holy city, that transgression may 2 be fin- 
ished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished, 
and everlasting justice may be brought, and vision and prophecy 
may be fulfilled, and the 3 Saints of saints may be anointed. 

weeks of years are intended, c. Such weeks of years were well 
known to the Jews, as we see from their law of the Sabbath and the 
jubilee-year, i.e., of the seventh year and of the seven times seventh 
year, respectively (cf. Lev. xxv. 2, 4, 5 ; xxvi. 34, 35, 43 ; II. Par. 
xxxvi. 21). d. Even the other nations were acquainted with the year- 
weeks, as is seen from the words of M. Varro in the writings of A. 
Gellius : "He too had already entered the twelfth year- week." e. 
The opinion of some of the habbinic writer's that jubilee-weeks are 
intended in Daniel's prophecy is not supported by a single analogy in 
other writings of either Hebrews or Gentiles, and has been introduced 
through theological prejudice. It is then evident that the prophet 
speaks of year-weeks in his prediction. 

The numeral " seventy " follows the noun " weeks " in the Hebrew 
text, so as to render the word emphatic. The obvious sense of the 
passage supposes that the series of years is to be taken continuously, 
so that those rationalistic writers who place part of the seventy weeks 
in one century, part in another, offend against the first and funda- 
mental principle of herineneutics. Another reason for taking the 
seventy years in one continuous series is suggested by the Hebrew 
verb rendered in our version by " are shortened." For in its original 
form it is in the singular number, so that it supposes the "seventy 
weeks " to constitute one unit. A more accurate rendering of the 
Hebrew verb would be " are cut off," i.e., " are decreed." 

1 May be finished. The word in our version gives the meaning of 
the Hebrew text rather than its literal wording. For if we retain 
the Hebrew consonants without considering that the Piel-form of the 
verb which is indicated by the vowels does not commonly occur, we 
ought to render " may be closed ; " on the other hand, if we retain 
the present vowels and change one of the consonants so as to obtain 
a verb that is regularly susceptible of those vowels, we must render 
the word "may be consummated." The Septuagint, Theodotion, 
Jerome, and others have adhered to this latter method. The verb in 
the next phrase, "may have an end," has occasioned a similar diffi- 
culty : if the Hebrew consonants are kept and the vowels changed 
so as to obtain a form that is grammatically correct, we must trans- 
late the word "may be sealed." If the process is reversed, i.e., if 
the vowels are kept and the consonants changed so as to do justice 
to the exigencies of grammar, we must render the text "may be 
abolished." The present English, rendering, therefore, gives the 
meaning of the Hebrew text, whatever correction be adopted. 

3 Saint of saints, a. If Daniel had intended to express the Vulgate 
rendering, he would have written " qadesh qedashim," instead of the 
actual leading " qodesh qodashim." b. Nor can it be maintained 
that the prophet refers to the " holy of holies" of the temple ; for 
in order to express this meaning the Hebrew phrase would have 
needed the definite article "qodesh haqqodashim " (cf. Ex. xxvi. 
33 ; Ezech. xlii. 13, etc.). c. Hence the proper and literal meaning 


Know thou therefore and take notice, that from 4 the going forth 

of the Hebrew text is "a holy of holies," i.e., "something most 
holy." There is, however, nothing to prevent us from understanding 
the expression metonyinically of a person ; for such a figure is not 
uncommon in Hebrew (cf. 1. Far. xxiii. 14). Even the New Testa- 
ment offers similar figures of speech, as may be seen in Luke i. 86 
(Greek text). In this acceptation the Hebrew expression lias been 
rendered in the Vulgate, and in the versions following it. 

4 From the going forth of the word. These words indicate that the 
prophet is about to give the term from which the seventy weeks 
should be reckoned. Two difficulties present themselves in connec- 
tion with this subject : a. According to the Hebrew accents we should 
read : " From the going forth of the word to build up Jerusalem 
again, unto Christ the prince, there shall be seven weeks ; and sixty- 
two weeks and the street shall bo built again. ..." It appears then 
that the anointed prince is predicted as coining after seven weeks, 
because the great pause is found after the latter clause. But, on the 
other hand, this interpretation of the prophecy is not probable in 
itself, does not fit into the context, and has been proved to be false 
by the historical event. We must then maintain that the Hebrew 
accent Athnach has not its usual disjunctive value ; similar occur- 
rences of Athnach without disjunctive value are found in Dan. ix. 2 ; 
Frov. vi. 20 ; Fs. lxxxiii. (Ixxxiv.) 3, so that our interpretation does 
not rest on a mere theological necessity, b. The second difficulty 
connected with the clause " from the going forth of the word " con- 
cerns the identity of the decree from which the seventy weeks are 
reckoned. This question has been answered in the most various 

a. Hengstenberg, Reinke, etc., maintain that the decree from which 
the prophet reckons is the same as that of which the archangel Ga- 
briel said: "From the beginning of thy prayers the WoKD came 
forth ;" in other words, it is the divine decree concerning the resto- 
ration of Jerusalem and the temple. a. But this answer to the 
question is not satisfactory on account of its very subtlety, /i. The 
Hebrew text does not permit us to adhere to this opinion, because 
the decree from which the prophet reckons is called "a decree," 
while it should be called "the decree," if it were identical with 
that previously mentioned. We must therefore explain the text 
as referring to one of the four royal decrees which were issued 
concerning Jerusalem and the temple. 

b. The first royal decree regarding Jerusalem was issued by Cyrus 
in the year 536 B.C. (cf. I. Esdr. i. 1, 2). It is true that Esdras speaks 
only about a decree concerning the temple: "He hath charged 
me to build him a house in Jerusalem ;" but the restoration of the 
temple would imply the rebuilding of the city. This is expressly 
stated in Is. xlv. 13 : "I have raised him [Cyrus] up to justice, and 
I will direct all his ways ; he shall build my city. . . ." The 
prophet Aggeus (i. 4) supposes too that the city had been restored 
before the temple was rebuilt. "Is it time for you," the prophet 
says, "to dwell in ceiled houses, and this house lie desolate?" 
a. But, on the other hand, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, al- 


of the word to build up Jerusalem again 5 unto Christ the prince 

most a full century after Cyrus, the temple was still in ruins. For 
Nehemias, the son of Helchias, testifies (II. Esdr. i. 3) : "They that 
have remained, and are left of the Captivity there in the province, 
are in great affliction and reproach ; and the wall of Jerusalem is 
broken down, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire." (5. Be- 
sides, Cyrus' decree says nothing of the restoration of the city, while 
Daniel's decree is explicit in its mention of it. All that is implicitly 
contained in the explicit decree regarding the restoration of the tem- 
ple may be reduced to the erection of a number of dwelling-houses, 
without in any way extending to the formal building of a city. y. 
And if we adopt this view, we are enabled to explain the texts of 
Isaias and Aggeus as referring to those habitations which later on 
became the nucleus of the restored city. 

c. The second royal decree was issued by Darius, the son of Ilystas- 
pis, in the year 5li) B.C. It is recorded at length in I. P]sdr. vi. 1-12, 
and is evidently nothing but a repetition of Cyrus' decree for the 
restoration of the temple. In fact, it states that Cyrus' commands 
had not yet been complied with, and hints at some of the obstacles 
that may have prevented its ready execution. No noted authority 
has maintained that Daniel's seventy weeks are to be computed from 
this decree, and all the arguments which militate against the identity 
of the prophet's decree with that of Cyrus are equally valid against 
its identity with that of Darius. 

d. The royal decree from which Daniel reckoned his seventy weeks 
is by Pusey (Lectures on Daniel, pp. 1G9 f.) and Delattre (De l'Authen- 
ticite du livre de Daniel, pp. 62-64) identified with that which Arta- 
xerxes issued in the seventh year of his reign. The decree belongs, 
therefore, to the year 458 B.C., and is duly recorded in I. Esdr. vii. 
14 ff. a. Though we freely grant that the restoration of the city is 
implicitly contained in the royal grant, it is still noticeable that it is 
not explicitly mentioned, ft. The judges that were to be established 
according to vv. 25, 26 might well exercise their judicial power in 
settling the quarrels among the settlers around the new sanctuary. 
A regularly constituted city is not necessarily presupposed, y. If in 
I. Esdr. iv. 12 the walls are said to have been restored, it appears 
from II. Esdr. ii. 3 (cf. II. Esdr. vi. 6, 7) that the former statement is 
a mere calumny of the Jews' political enemies. 8. The decree issued 
in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes may be called a mere repetition 
of the decree issued in the seventh year ; still it must also be kept in 
mind that before the second decree Nehemias asked leave to return 
to Jerusalem, which he promised to rebuild (II. Esdr. ii. 5). 

e. The fourth royal decree that has been, and still is, variously 
identified with the prophetic decree of Daniel (cf. Ilengstenberg, 
Reinke, etc.), was issued by Artaxerxes in the twentieth year of his 
reign, i.e., 44-) B.C. a. This decree was a formal royal edict (11. Esdras 
ii. 8, 9), such as is supposed in the Hebrew text of Daniel ; (j. more- 
over, it was the first decree which expressly granted leave to restoro 
the city with its walls, gates, and fortifications (II. Esdr. ii. 3, 5, 13, 
17; iii. 1 f.). y. From I. Esdr. ix. 9 it appears that at the same 
time permission was granted to put up fences, etc., for the protection 


there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks, and the street 

of tbe vineyards. Thus far everything proves that Daniel's decree 
must be identified with this second decree of Artaxerxes. 

We shall see, however, that there are very specious chronological 
difficulties militating against such an identification. But leaving 
these for the present, we must show that there are many historical 
notices in Sacred Scripture which well agree with the view which 
identifies the decree of Daniel with either the first or the second of 
Artaxerxes. a. After the issuing of these decrees the Jews began 
to restore the holy city with its walls and fortifications (II. Ks<lr. 
iii.) ; all this they had to do under distressing circumstances, the 
Samaritans being a constant source of annoyance to them (II. Esdr. 
iv. 7-2o ; vi. 1-15). According to the wording of the prophecy we 
may well suppose that the restoration occupied a space of seven 
weeks, or forty-nine years, fj. After the further lapse of sixty-two 
weeks appeared the Messias at the Jordan, was baptized by John, 
and proclaimed by the voice of the heavenly Father as his beloved 
son, in whom he was well pleased (Matt. iii. 1(1, 17). For the opinion 
of some of the Fathers who look upon the Messias' birth as the term 
of the prophecy cannot be reconciled with the chronological require- 
ments of the prophet. The opinion which sees in the anointing 
of "something most holy" the foundation of the Church is at 
least less probable than our view, which identifies this unction with 
the public and official mission of the Messias, taking place as it did 
at the .Ionian, before the eyes of innumerable witnesses (cf. Luke i. 
35 ; Acts iii. 14). y. During the course of the last week the Messias 
was slain, and while he expired on the cross the tearing of the veil 
announced the abrogation of the Old Testament sacrifices, and finally 
determined the destruction of the people, which had till then belonged 
to the Messias. This formal rejection on the part of God implied an 
irreparable destruction of the nation, which attained its final comple- 
tion when the Roman armies under Titus swept away the city and 
the temple from the face of the earth. o\ In order to console the 
people, however, even in the height of their allliction, Gabriel pre- 
dicts that the Messias will during the course of the last week confirm 
his covenant with many of the people, so that these at least will be- 
come the happy sharers of the Messianic redemption. And history, 
in its turn, tells us that many were converted to Christ by the power 
of his word, and that many more accepted his teaching through the 
ministry of the apostles. 

5 Unto Christ the prince. The Hebrew phrase " Mashiach nagid " 
has been variously interpreted : a. Some translate " unto the anointed 
prince." But in order to have this meaning the adjective " mash- 
iach " should follow the noun "nagid." h. Others have looked 
upon "Mashiach" as a proper name, which has on that account no 
article accompanying it. Similar phrases in which other words are 
thus construed as proper names may be seen in Num. xxiv. 16; Ps. 
xliv. (xlv.) 1 ; lxxi. (lxxii.) 1 ; Zach. iii. 8; Jo. iv. 25. But if this 
were true, the noun "nagid" which follows "Mashiach" should 
have the definite article, c Theodotion and his followers have 
therefore preferred to render the phrase as " unto an anointed one, a 


shall be built again, and the 6 walls in troublesome times. And 
after sixty-two weeks 7 Christ shall be slain, and the 8 people that 

prince." But it must be remembered that in the following sentence 
the same " Mashiach " is again introduced, and again without the 
definite article. Now if " Mashiach " were not a proper name, it ought 
to have the definite article — at least, where it occurs for the second 
time. d. It is, therefore, preferable to consider Daniel's way of 
speaking in the present passage as poetical ; hence the article before 
the noun in apposition to the proper name has been omitted through 
a poetic license (cf. Corluv, Spicil., i. p. 480 ; Pusey, Lectures on 
Daniel, pp. 173 f.; Dan. viii. 14). 

6 The walls, a. The Hebrew word "charuts" is, properly speak- 
ing, the passive participle of the verb "charats," to cut, to decree. 
Hence its literal meaning is "decree." a. It is rendered in this 
sense in Is. x. 23 and Joel iii. 4. (5. The words derived from the same 
root, which occur in the context of the present prophecy, have been 
interpreted in a like manner. But this interpretation introduces into 
the present passage a hard and unexpected parenthesis, b. Hence 
other writers maintain that the word "charuts " in the present pas- 
sage is equivalent to the Chaldee "charits," fosse, aqueduct, or 
wall and fortification. Theodotion, the Vulgate, the Syriac version, 
and the context favor this rendering. 

7 Christ. We maintain that the Christ (Mashiach) spoken of in 
this sentence is identical with "Christ the prince" who is mentioned 
in the preceding sentence. And we further maintain that none but 
Christ Jesus is the person indicated by both these expressions. Pre- 
scinding from the historical accomplishment of the prophecy in Christ 
Jesus, which will be shown in another place, we give here the fol- 
lowing proofs for our interpretation : a. The good promised in the 
first part of the prophecy is evidently the Messianic salvation. Now 
these benefits are to come at the end of the seventy weeks, while the 
anointed prince "Mashiach nagid " is to come at the beginning of 
the last week, and the Christ "the Mashiach" is to be slain in the 
middle of the last week. The promised benefits are then connected 
with the "Mashiach nagid" and the "Mashiach;" in other words, 
the person indicated by these expressions is the Messias. b. Though 
the term "Mashiach nagid " may be conceived as predicated of a 
Jewish king, the simple "Mashiach" was probably at the time of 
the prophet the consecrated name of the expected Redeemer (cf. Ps. 
xliv. (xlv.) 8 ; Is. lxi. 1 : Luke iv. 18 ; Matt. ii. 4 ; xvi. 16; xxii. 42 ; 
xxiv. 5, 23 ; xxvi. 03, G8 ; Mark xv. 32 ; Luke ii. ll ; iii. 15 ; xxiii. 
2 ; Jo. i. 20, 25 ; iii. 28 ; iv. 25, 29 ; vii. 20 ; ix. 22 ; x. 24 ; xii. 43, 
etc.). The absence of the article before the word " Mashiach" is so 
far from opposing our interpretation that it rather favors our view. 
c. There is evidently some kind of a connection between the " Mash- 
iach" and the "most holy " to he anointed during the course of the 
same last week. This connection cannot be explained any more satis- 
factorily than by identifying " the most holy " with the " Mashiach," 
who is most worthy of that title (cf. Luke i. 35 ; Jo. xvii. 10 ; Mark 
i. 24 ; Acts iv. 27 ; iii. 14 ; Apoc. iii. 7). d. The " Mashiach nagid" 
and the "Mashiach " are opposed to the "coming leader," who is 


shall deny him shall not be his. And a people with their leader 

presumably of a foreign race and country, since he will destroy the 
city and the temple. Hence the "Mashiach nagid " must be of the 
Jewish nation, the leader of the chosen people of God, and therefore 
the Messias. e. In this manner too the clause " he shall confirm the 
covenant with many " is satisfactorily explained, while in any other 
hypothesis it remains inexplicable. 

* And the people that shall deny him shall not be his. This passage 
has a quite different reading in the Hebrew text ; for there we have 
only the two words: " c en lo " (not for him). The various interpre- 
tations given of the clause may be classed under two headings : a. 
The phrase is not elliptical. 1. It means "nothing unto him," so 
that the whole sentence reads : " Christ shall be slain, and nothing is 
left him after his death." The Hebrew form of the negative found 
in this phrase does not admit of such a rendering. 2. We must 
translate "not for himself," so that the passage means: "Christ 
shall be slain, and not for himself." ex. A similar conception of 
Christ's death is found in Is. liii. 10. ft. Still, the Hebrew negative 
found in the present phrase is not a mere negative particle, but 
means " there is not." y. On the other hand, this negative term may 
have been used instead of the common one "lo," in order to avoid 
cacophony (lo lo), though the latter occurs in Dan. xi. 17. S. If it 
be said that no one in the Old Testament is represented as having 
died for his own benefit, it must be kept in mind that he is truly con- 
ceived and represented as having died for his own advantage who 
gains life eternal by his temporal death. The history of the seven 
brothers dying for' the observance of their law fully shows that 
such a conception was not foreign to the Jewish mind. 8. Others 
have rendered the phrase: "not on his own account," so that the 
passage means : "Christ shall be slain, but not on his own account," 
i.e., "not on account of any fault of his." a. It must be granted 
that the Hebrew preposition employed in the phrase now under con- 
sideration may have such a meaning (cf. (Jen. iv. 23 ; Mich. i. 12 ; 
Num. xvi. 34; Job xxxvii. 1), /i. but the common meaning " there 
is not " of the negative found in the same phrase, y. and the un- 
common and round-about way of expressing the thought implied in 
such an interpretation render this opinion very improbable. 4. 
Others again understand the Hebrew phrase as meaning : "and no 
one is unto him." a. But though the meaning of the passage 
"Christ shall be slain, and there is no one unto him to aid or defend 
him," is sufficiently probable, (i. still the Hebrew negative particle 
with which we have to deal has this meaning only when the person 
in question is named in the context (ef. Lam. i. 2). 

6. The second class of interpreters who have expressed an opinion 
on the meaning of the Hebrew phrase have regarded it as an ellipse. 
For it can hardly be said that a word has fallen out of the primitive 
text, since all the oldest versions render the phrase as brief and con- 
cise as it is found in the Hebrew text (LXX., Theodot., Aquil., Syr.). 
a. Some have therefore supplied "people," reading: " Christ shall be 
slain, and there shall be no more a people unto him " (Vulg., Pusey, 
etc.). /i. Others have preferred "judgment," so that they render: 


that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and 9 the 
end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war, the ap- 
pointed desolation. And he shall confirm the covenant with 
many, in one week, and in the half of the week the victim and 
the sacrifice shall fail, and 10 there shall be in the temple the 
abomination of desolation, and the 11 desolation shall continue 
even to the consummation and to the end." 

"Christ shall be slain, and there be no judgment unto him," i.e., 
lie shall die unjustly (Theodot., several Greek Fathers), y. Others 
again supply "the city and the sanctuary," 6. or "a Messias," s. or 
"that which had belonged to him." It is evident that according to 
these suggestions we obtain the meanings: "Christ shall be slain, 
and the city and sanctuary shall not be his;" or " Christ shall be 
slain, and there shall be no Messias (Redeemer) unto him ;" or, finally, 
"Christ shall be slain, and what had been his shall be his no more." 
This last rendering appears to be more satisfactory than any of the 
preceding ones. For by the death of Christ the temporal ruin of the 
Jewish people, which'had belonged to Christ, was definitely settled. 

9 And the end thereof shall be waste. A literal rendering of the 
Hebrew text will serve as commentary on the following clauses : 
" And in that warlike inundation shall consist the final ruin of city 
and temple, and the war shall last till the destruction is complete, 
and the decreed devastation shall come to pass." 

10 And there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation. 
The Hebrew text rendered literally reads : "and upon the wing of 
abominations." But the word which literally means " wing," is also 
used to signify " extremity" (cf. Is. xi. 12 ; xxiv. 10 ; Ezech. vii. 2). 
The ( J reek word meaning "pinnacle" is closely related to this ex- 
pression (cf. Matt. iv. 5 ; Luke iv. 9), as may be seen in Suidas and 
Hesychius. We are therefore fully justified in rendering: "and 
upon the pinnacle (the height) of abomination." But the question as 
to what is meant by these words is not so easily settled, a. The 
phrase denotes the lioman ensigns and banners, and especially their 
winged eagles to which the armies paid divine worship ; the Romans 
are represented as approaching upon these wings. This explanation 
is supported by I. Mach. i. 54 (Vulg. 57) ; Matt. xxiv. 15 ; xxiv. 
28 ; Mark xiii. 14 ; Luke xxi. 28. It must, however, be noted that 
Matt. xxiv. 15 can hardly be adduced in favor of this interpretation, 
since " the holy place " in the language of the Machabees and of the 
LXX. means the temple, and not the surroundings of Jerusalem, and 
since Christ and the Evangelists most probably adopted the phrase- 
ology of the former (cf. F. d'Fnvieu, iii. pp. 1015 ff.). b. The ex- 
pression "wing of abominations" indicates the temple, and the 
abominations are the vices of the Hebrew people with which they 
polluted the sanctuary. Jer. vii. 30 speaks of the Jewish depravity 
in a similar manner. This interpretation is supported by Dan. xi. 
31; H. Mach. iv. 13-17; Matt. xxiv. 15, 16; Flavius Josephus, Bell. 
Jud. IV. vi. 3. Both of these explanations are therefore really 

11 The desolation shall continue. A paraphrase of the Hebrew text 



Chronological Agreement between Prophecy and 
Fulfilment. — 1. Of the many attempts that have been 
made to make the prophecy chronologically agree with its 
fulfilment we may mention the following four (cf. Corluy, 
Spicil. i. pp. 498 If.) : 

a. According to Pusey (Lectures on Daniel, pp. 169 ff.) 
the term from which the seventy weeks must be reckoned 
is the first decree of Artaxerxes, issued in the year 457 B.C. 
The end of the 09 weeks (483 years) falls then in the year 
2G a.d., i.e., at the beginning of the public life of Jesus; 
after three years more Jesus died on the cross, and thus 
abolished Old Testament sacrifice and worship; during the 
course of the same week he instituted his Church, and thus 
confirmed his new covenant with many. If it be remem- 
bered that our present era probably begins about three or 
four years later than it really should do, the above-men- 
tioned 2Gth year, in which the public life of Jesus begins, 
will become the 29th or 30th year of his life — a result agree- 
ing with Luke iii. 1. 

Thus far we have merely proposed and explained the 
first theory; we must now examine the two suppositions 
which are assumed in it. 1. The decree of Artaxerxes is 
placed in the year 457 B.C. 2. Our Christian era is as- 
sumed to begin several years after the birth of Christ. 

1. According to I. Esdr. vii. 8 fi\, the first decree of Ar- 
taxerxes was issued in the seventh year of his reign; in 
order, then, to coincide with the year 457 B.C. Artaxerxes 

will offer the best commentary on the last part of Daniel's prophecy : 
"The last week will lead many (following Christ's and the apostles' 
instructions) to the new Messianic covenant, and in the middle of that 
week (Christ's bloody sacrifice on the cross) will abolish the Jewish 
sacrifices and worship. And (a few years later) the (Roman) destroy- 
ers will approach on the pinions of tneir abominable eagles, and they 
will press their conquest to such an extent that the destruction, 
which had been decided by an irrevocable decree, will pour itself out 
upon the devastated place." 

The time of the messIas' birth 317 

must have begun to reign in 464 or 465 B.C. Our inquiry 
must therefore be, whether history confirms or, at least, 
permits, this date for the beginning of Artaxerxes' reign. 
a. Diodorus Siculus testifies (xi. 69) that Xerxes was killed 
in the fourth year of the 78th olympiad, i.e., 465 years be- 
fore the common era. Now Artaxerxes began to reign 
seven months after the death of Xerxes. But we can show 
independently that Artaxerxes began his reign between 
the fifth and the ninth month after the death of Xerxes. 
For in his twentieth year the month Casleu (ninth month) 
preceded the month Nisan (first month) according to II. 
Esdr. i. 1 ; ii. 1 ; again Nisan (first month) precedes in the 
same reign Ab (fifth month) according to I. Esdr. vii. 7, 9. 
The succession of months in Artaxerxes' reign was there- 
fore ninth, first, fifth, i.e., he must have begun his reign 
between the fifth and the ninth month, i.e., between Ab 
and Casleu 464 B.C. b. The Ptolemean canon and Euse- 
bius place the death of Xerxes between Dec. 466 and Dec. 
465 (cf. Migne, t. xix. pp. 473-476 in Chron. 2). Hence we 
obtain nearly the same result as from the above testimony. 
c. Manetho testifies that Xerxes reigned 21, Artaxerxes 41 
years (cf. Jul. Afric. ap. Syncell. p. 75) ; Diodorus gives 
the reign of Artaxerxes as lasting 40 years; Thucydides has 
it that Artaxerxes died in 424 or 425 B.C., and all historians 
agree that Xerxes began to reign in 485, i.e., in the first 
year of the seventy-fourth olympiad, or 270 u.c. Hence 
all historical testimony points to the year 465 or 464 as the 
first year of Artaxerxes' reign. 

2. The second supposition implied in the first theory of 
agreement between Daniel's prophecy and its fulfilment 
makes our current Christian era begin several years after 
the birth of Christ. This supposition too is not only 
permitted but rather confirmed by historical testimony. 
a. According to a common patristic tradition Jesus died 
under the consulate of the Gemini, i.e., 782 u.c. or 29 a.d. 
Now according to St. John the public life of Jesus em- 
braced the celebration of at least three or probably four 


Easter festivities (Jo. ii. 13; vi. 4; xiii. 1 ; v. 1). Hence his 
public life must have begun in 789 or 788 u.c. (2G or 25 
a.d.). Again, the Gospel of St. Luke testifies that Jesus 
was about thirty years old when he began his public life 
(Luke iii. 23). Our common Christian era therefore must 
begin its reckoning about four years after the birth of 
Christ, b. St. Luke iii. 1 tells us that the Baptist's minis- 
try began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar; since 
Jesus did not begin his public life long after the appear- 
ance of the Baptist, his ministry must have begun about 
the same year. The fact that the fifteenth year of Tiberius' 
reign is 782 u.c. proves nothing against our position, since 
the evangelist includes Tiberius' proconsular reign, which 
the Senate decreed for him in 704 u.c. (cf. Tacit. Ann. 
i. 3; Velleius Paterculus, Hist. Rom. ii. 121; Suetonius, 
Tiber, xx. 21). Hence the fifteenth year is 778 or 779 u.c, 
which date agrees with that arrived at by the preceding 
line of argument, c. A third argument proving that our 
common Christian era begins several years after the birth 
of Christ is derived from the year of Herod's death. This 
occurred in April, 750 u.c, so that Christ cannot have been 
born later than 749 u.c; since now the common era begins 
with that of Dionysius Exiguus, i.e., with 754 or 753 u.c, 
it follows that it starts three or four years after Christ's 
birth (cf. Patrizi, De Evang. Dissert. 20, 47, 51 libri iii.). 

b. Vitringa (Sacrar. Observ. vi. 1-5), Hengstenberg, 
Reinke, Bade, and other scholars are of opinion that in 
computing the terms of the prophecy of Daniel we must 
adhere to the computation of the present Christian era, 
i.e., that our current Christian era begins neither later nor 
earlier than the year of Christ's birth. The Lord's bap- 
tism, therefore, occurred in the year 782 u.c The term 
from which the G9 weeks must be computed is not the 
first decree of Artaxerxes, issued in the seventh year of his 
reign, but his second decree, issued in his twentieth year. 
For the twentieth year of Artaxerxes' reign is none other 
than 455 B.C., or 299 u.c Adding the G9 weeks or the 483 


years to 299, we obtain the above 782 u.c., i.e., the year of 
Christ's baptism according to the common era. 

It is evident that the two suppositions implied in this 
view are: 1. that Artaxerxes began his reign in 475 u.c; 
2. that the common reckoning of our current Christian 
era is fully correct. Both of these assumptions are con- 
firmed by learned historical investigations. 

1. Artaxerxes began his reign in 475, because: a. After 
the tenth year of Xerxes' reign history is entirely silent 
about him. Ctesias tells only one event of his life after 
the fifth year of his reign, and Herodotus' last notice of 
Xerxes concerns the year 47G B.C. b. The historian Jus- 
tinus has it (iii. 1) that at the time of Xerxes' murder Ar- 
taxerxes was still quite a boy. It is true that according to 
Ctesias Artaxerxes was born three or four years after 
Xerxes had been made king, so that he would have been 
only about seven years old at the time of his father's death 
had Xerxes reigned only 11 years ; but then Ctesias is so 
untrustworthy in his chronology that we may reasonably 
follow the more common computation regarding the time 
of the birth of Artaxerxes. Accordingly, we may assume 
that Artaxerxes was born three or four years before Xerxes 
became king; had Xerxes reigned 21 years, Artaxerxes 
would have been about 25 years old at the time of his 
father's death, and could not have been called "quite a 
boy." c. The peace of Cimon, which all authors agree to 
have been concluded with Artaxerxes, falls according to 
the testimony of many in the year 470 B.C., so that Arta- 
xerxes must have been king at that early date. d. Another 
argument for Artaxerxes' early accession to the throne may 
be taken from the fact that Themistocles is said to have 
taken refuge with him (cf. Thucydides (i. 137), Plutarch 
(27), Cornelius Nepos, Suidas, and the Scholiast of Aris- 
tophanes). For though Ephorus, Dinon, Clitarchus, and 
Heraclides maintain that Themistocles fled to Xerxes, the 
above-mentioned authors are in this matter of much greater 
authority. Now the flight of Themistocles to the Persian 


court is placed before the year 470 B.C. by such authors as 
Cicero (Lsel. 12), Diodorus Siculus (xi. 35), Eusebius 
(Chronicon Armeu.), Thucydides (i. 13G). The same may 
be inferred from the history of /Elian, according to which 
Themistocles resisted the tyrant Pisistratus when he was 
still a boy. Now the last year of Pisistratus was 529 B.C., 
and Themistocles died when he was G5 years of age. If 
we then suppose that Themistocles was about 8 years old 
at the time he resisted Pisistratus, he must have died about 
472 B.C. Consequently, Artaxerxes must have begun to 
reign before 470, and in all probability about 475 B.C. 

2. The second supposition implied in the present theory 
places the beginning of our present Christian era in the 
year of Christ's birth. This is proved from the Gospel of 
St. Luke (iii. 1, 23), taken together with the fact that on all 
medals and coins the years of Tiberius begin with the year 
in which he became emperor (7G7 U.C.). Father Riess (Uas 
Geburtsjahr Christi, Herder, 1880, Erganzungsheft) has 
fully developed the various other arguments for this view, 
so that it must be regarded as solidly probable. 

The second explanation of the agreement between proph- 
ecy and fulfilment, as far as the seventy weeks of Daniel 
are concerned, rests therefore on historically tenable sup- 

c. A third theory computes the seventy weeks from the 
second decree of Artaxerxes, issued in the year 457 B.C., or 
297 U.C. The term to which the G9 weeks reach is the 
baptism of Jesus in the year 778 U.C, or 25 a.d. More 
accurately, however, only G8 weeks and 5 years lie between 
457 and 778; the remaining two years of the G9 weeks 
elapse during the public life of Jesus, so that the middle 
of the seventieth week falls two or three years after the 
death of Jesus. As to the victim and the sacrifice, they 
are abolished during the course of the first half of the 
week, and not at the end of the first half. 

This view of the prophecy implies: 1. that Artaxerxes 
began his reign in the year 47G B.C., so that his twentieth 


year would be 457 B.C., or 297 u.c. 2. It supposes that 
the common Christian era begins several years after the 
real birth of Christ. The first supposition has in its favor 
all the arguments which show that Xerxes reigned only 
ten or eleven years; the second supposition is supported 
by all the arguments which are advanced in order to prove 
that Christ was born three or four years before the begin- 
ning of our present Christian era. 

d. Wallon has formulated a fourth theory concerning the 
chronological agreement between the prophecy of Daniel 
and its fulfilment. According to this view, the term from 
which the seventy weeks must be computed is the same as 
in the second of the foregoing theories, i.e., the year 455 
B.C., or the twentieth year of Artaxerxes' reign. The term 
to which the 09 weeks reach is the year 782 u.c, or the 
fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar. But though Christ's 
baptism occurred in 782 u.c, he was born in 747 u.c, so 
that at the time of his baptism he was 34 years and 2 months, 
or about 30 years old. 

It is clear that this explanation involves three supposi- 
tions: 1. Xerxes reigned only about ten or eleven years. 
This has been shown to be probable under the second ex- 
planation. 2. Christ was born several years before the 
beginning of our common Christian era. This is suffi- 
ciently established under the preceding explanations. 3. The 
fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, the year of Jesus' bap- 
tism, falls in 782 u.c This third supposition rests on the 
fact that all the Latin and the Syrian coins reckon the 
years of Tiberius from his accession to the imperial throne, 
i.e., from 7G7 u.c. It is confirmed by the fact that in 78G, 
the year of Christ's death, the parasceve of the Pasch, 
or Nisan 14, falls on a Friday; again, Clement of Alexan- 
dria (Migne viii. 885), Julius Africanus, Cyprian, Philas- 
trius, Gaudentius, and Prosper hold that Jesus taught only 
one year and died in the year 15 of Tiberius. Tertullian 
is of opinion that Jesus was baptized in the 12th, and died 
in the loth, year of Tiberius Caesar, while Irenaeus, who is 


almost an Apostolic Father, has it that Jesus died about 
the age of fifty. 

But these latter patristic opinions only show that there 
is no perfect agreement among the Fathers concerning the 
years of the public life and death of our Redeemer, while 
they cannot lessen the value of other arguments which we 
may be able to find concerning them. Now, St. Luke's 
statement that Jesus was about thirty years old when he 
began his public life can hardly be reconciled with the 
view that he was 34£ years old at the time of his baptism. 
Again, the traditional chronology of St. Peter's pontificate 
and of the destruction of Jerusalem supposes that Jesus 
must have died in the year 782 u.c. 

2. The second inference derivable from Daniel's prophecy 
is that by the Messias remission of sin and perfect justice 
will be obtained. The Messianic time is a period in which 
" transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, 
and iniquity may be abolished, and everlasting justice may 
be brought." 

3. In the person and mission of the Messias all the proph- 
ecies of the Old Testament will find their fulfilment. 
The Messias himself will die a violent death. For vision 
and prophecy shall be fulfilled, and at the appointed time 
the Christ shall be slain. 

4. The ruin of the city and the temple shall follow the 
Messias' violent death as a natural consequence. " And a 
people with their leader that shall come shall destroy the 
city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be waste 
and after the end of the war the appointed desolation. . . . 
And the desolation shall continue even to the consumma- 
tion and to the end." 

5. The Messias will abolish the Old Testament worship 
and sacrifices. " And in the half of the week the victim 
and the sacrifice shall fail, and there shall be in the temple 
the abomination of desolation." 

6. The Messias will institute a new covenant, which will 


take the place of the former divine covenant. "And he 
shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week." 

7. Jerusalem, the holy city of God, shall be restored in 
so far as it is a type of the restoration of God's kingdom 
upon earth. " The street shall be built again, and the walls 
in troublesome times." 

8. If it be, finally, asked what special consolation the 
Jews could derive from Daniel's prediction, they found in 
it the assurance of a future restoration of their temporal 
and spiritual prosperity. All this was, however, foretold in 
such a manner that they could foresee the final ruin of 
their temporal well-being in the interest of the kingdom of 
God, into which many were to enter during the course of 
the last or the seventieth week. 

Section III. The Coming to the Temple. 
Agg. ii. 1-10. 


1. The Historical Connection of the Peophecy with 
ITS CONTEXT. — The circumstances under which the present 
prophecy is written are entirely the same as those under 
which Zacharias wrote his celebrated oracles concerning the 
future deliverer. Sixteen years had elapsed since the re- 
turn of the Jewish exiles from Babylon, and no successful 
effort had been made to rebuild the sanctuary. In the 
second year of Darius (b.c. 520) the prophets Aggeus and 
Zacharias (I. Esdr. iv. 24; v. 1, 2) reproached the people 
for their neglect, and exhorted them to apply themselves 
in earnest to the task, with the result that four years after- 
wards the work was completed. 

2. Division of the Prophecy.— The prophecy of Aggeus 
consists of four sections, arranged chronologically: a. In 
the second year of Darius, the first day of the sixth month ; 
Aggeus gave out the foregoing public appeal no longer 
to postpone the restoration of the temple. On the twenty- 


fourth day of the same month the people, headed by Zoro- 
babel and the high-priest Jesus, began the work. This 
is told in Agg. i. 1-ii. 1. b. On the twenty-first day of 
the seventh month the prophet encourages those who might 
have seen the temple of Solomon, and might regard the 
structure now rising from the ground as far inferior to it 
(Agg. ii. 2-10). c. On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth 
month the prophet teaches the people that so long as the 
temple continues unbuilt they are as men who are un- 
clean, their offerings are unacceptable, and hence their 
unfruitful seasons (Agg. ii. 11-20). d. On the same day 
Aggeus encourages Zorobabel as the civil head of the re- 
stored community with the assurance that in the approach- 
ing overthrow of the Gentile thrones and kingdoms he will 
receive special signs of divine favor (Agg. ii. 21-24). 

3. Explanations of the Prophecy.— a. The prophecy 
is concerned with the political commotions of the Persian 
and Greek empires, and with the honor which the temple 
shall receive through the gifts of the Gentiles (cf. II. Mach. 
iii. 2, 3; Ps. lxxi. (lxxii.) 10). The reasons for this inter- 
pretation are taken from the text and the context of the 
prophecy, a. The text of verse 7 supplies the desired 
argument: "Yet one little while (and I will move the 
heaven and the earth, and the sea and the dry land) " is 
the time which God assigns for the fulfilment of his pre- 
diction. But if the latter were Messianic, it would have 
been fulfilled 500 years, and more, after the prediction, 
which is surely not a mere " little while." (5. Again, in 
the context of the prophecy (vv. 22, 23) God almost re- 
peats the promise of vv. 7, 8, 9 : "I will move both heaven 
and earth . . " Now, vv. 22, 23 refer to the immediate 
future, and not to the far-off Messianic times. Therefore, 
the prediction of vv. 7, 8, 9 too must refer to the immedi- 
ate future. The theological value of this opinion will be 
seen in what follows. 

I). A second interpretation does not deny that the proph- 
ecy has reference to the Messias and his times; but it is 


Messianic only in so far as all future times will render the 
temple glorious by the gifts and the worship that the 
Gentiles will offer when humbled by the extraordinary 
reverses of war (Reinke, Hengstenberg). a. The first 
reason assigned for this explanation is the fact that the 
movements of the heaven and the earth and of the nations 
are not limited to any particular time in the prophecy. 
Hence they apply to all times. Still, on the other hand, it 
does not appear probable that such a general promise would 
have been set forth with such solemnity. /?. The second 
reason advanced by the above authors rests on the fact 
that the temple is a type of the worship paid to the true 
God of Israel; this may be gathered from Is. ii. 2 f., and 
lx. 1 f. The temple is, therefore, represented as glorified 
by the conversion of the new nations to the worshi]} of 
Jehovah, y. But, on the other hand, it was not only the 
second temple that was such a type: the first temple had 
the same spiritual meaning. The mere conversion of the 
Gentiles would therefore not render " the glory of this last 
house more than of the first." 6. Nor can it be said that 
after the time of Aggeus many more Gentiles adhered to 
Jehovah than before his time, and that therefore the second 
temple would be more glorious than the first. For such 
a glory applied, at most, to the temple taken in its spiritual 
meaning, not to the material temple, while the prophecy 
of Aggeus speaks of the material rather than the spiritual 

c. Ribera is of opinion that the promise, " Great shall be 
the glory of this last house more than of the first/' was 
verified not only by the corporal presence of the Messias in 
the second temple, but also by the material splendor of 
Herod's temple, a. This opinion rests first on verse 9, 
where God says: "The silver is mine and the gold is mine." 
Now God really brought the silver and the gold into the 
second temple by means of Herod's restoration. When 
one reads Josephus' (Antiq. XV. xi. 2-5) description of the 
second temple, one can hardly fail to recognize in it the 


verification of Aggeus' prophecy. /?. Still, on the other 
hand, it is more commonly admitted that the glory of Solo- 
mon's temple exceeded that of Herod's, so that the pre- 
diction was not fully verified through the magnificence of 
the latter. 

4. The Messianic Nature of Aggeus' Prophecy.— a. St. 
Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews (xii. 25, 2G, 27), clearly 
applies part of this prophecy to the Messianic times. Ex- 
horting his readers to " refuse him not that speaketh," he 
reasons in this manner: "They escaped not who refused 
him that spoke upon the earth," i.e., on Mount Sinai, when 
he shook the whole desert. Much less shall we escape if 
we refuse him who says: " Yet once more, and I will move 
not only the earth, but heaven also," which he did in the 
establishing of the Christian dispensation. " For in that 
he saith: Yet once more, he signifieth the translation of 
the movable things as made," i.e., he shows that the cove- 
nant made during the first shaking of the earth will be 
abrogated ; " that those things may remain which are im- 
movable, i.e., that the new covenant, made when the earth 
and heaven were moved, may be everlasting. If it be ob- 
jected that the moving of heaven and earth promised in 
the prophecy was to take place after " one little while," it 
must be remembered that 500 years are a very little while 
for the eternal God. b. The moving of heaven and earth, 
and especially of " all nations," is in Sacred Scripture the 
common figure of the Messias' coming; this may be seen 
in I. Kings ii. 10; Joel ii. 28-31 (this latter passage is ex- 
plained in Acts ii. 17-20); Ps. xcv. (xcvi.) 9-11. c. The 
glory which the prophet promises to the new temple appears 
to be identical with that spoken of in Is. lx. 1, 2; now the 
latter is evidently the glory Jerusalem will receive from 
the Messias. d. The promise of peace too, " and in this 
place I will give thee peace, saith the Lord of hosts," gives 
the prophecy a Messianic bearing, as may be inferred by a 
comparison with Mich. v. 5; Is. ix. G, 7; liii. 5; Ps. lxxi. 
(lxxii.) 3, 7; Luke i. 79; ii. 14; Col. i. 20, etc. e. The 


words, " I will move all nations," appear to have reference 
to the divine judgment of the Gentiles which in I. Kings 
ii. 10 and Dan. vii. 14 is connected with the advent of 
the Messias. /. If in Agg. ii. 22-24 the promise, "■ In that 
day I will take thee, Zorohabel, my servant, and will make 
thee as a signet, for I have chosen thee," refers to Zoro- 
babel and connects his elevation with the overthrow of the 
nations, that Jewish king is in reality only the type of his 
great offspring, the flower of the root of Jesse. 

It is true that the Jews now generally understand this 
prophecy as applying either to the greater glory of the Hero- 
dian temple, or to the longer duration of the second tem- 
ple, — according to some authorities the first stood 410, 
the second 420 years, — or again of the future temple 
that will be built at the time of the Messias. But to this 
interpretation they have been driven by their theological 
exigencies. The Jews who rejected our Lord were still 
convinced that the prophecy must be verified during the 
time of the second temple. Josephus (13. J. VI. v. 4) and 
Tacitus (Hist. v. 13) endeavor to wrest the prediction to 
Vespasian; R. Akiba, who was accounted the first oracle of 
his time, the first and greatest guardian of the tradition 
and the old law, of whom they said that God revealed to 
him things unknown to Moses, was induced by Aggeus' 
prophecy to acknowledge the impostor Bar-cochba, to his 
own and his nation's destruction. Following the tradi- 
tional meaning of the great prophecy, the great rabbi para- 
phrased the words, " Yet a little, a little of the kingdom, 
will I give to Israel upon the destruction of the first house, 
and after the kingdom, lo! I will shake heaven, and after 
that will come the Messias " (Pusey, " Minor Prophets/' ii. 
pp. 311 i). Then, again, the Midrash on Deuteronomy (ii. 
31; sect. 1) has the following words: " Behold, I have begun. 
This refers, said Rabbi Azarya, to the help which is once to 
come. How so ? As the prophet said to Israel: Yet once, 
it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens . . ." 

Calmet, Bade) and Catholic theologians generally are, 


therefore, right in believing that Aggeus' prediction has 
been fully verified in the time of Jesus Christ. 

Agg. ii. 1-10. 

In the four and twentieth day of the month, in the sixth 
month, in the second year of Darius the king they began. And 
in the seventh month, the one and twentieth day of the month, 
the word of the Lord came by the hand of Aggeus the prophet, 
saying : " Speak to Zorobabel, the son of Salathiel, the governor 
of Juda, and to Jesus, the son of Josedec, the high-priest, and to 
the rest of the people, saying : ' Who is left among you that saw 
this house in its first glory ? and how do you see it now ? is it not 
in comparison to that as nothing in your eyes ? Yet now take 
courage, O Zorobabel,' saith the Lord, ' and take courage, O Jesus, 
the son of Josedec, the high-priest, and take courage, all ye people 
of the land,' saith the Lord of hosts, ' and perform (for I am with 
you,' saith the Lord of hosts) ' the word that I covenanted with 
you, when you came out of the land of Egypt, and my spirit shall 
he in the midst of you; fear not.' For thus saith the Lord of 
hosts : ' ' Yet one little while, and I will move the heaven, and the 
earth, and the sea, and the dry land, and I will move all nations, 
and the 2 desired of all nations shall come, and I will fill this 

1 One little while. In order to render the full meaning of the 
Hebrew text we must translate: "Yet once, it is a little while." The 
" once " looks forward and conveys that God will again shake the 
world, but once only; the "yet " looks back to the first great shaking 
of the moral world, wben God's revelation to Moses and his chosen 
people broke upon the pagan world. The " little while " refers to 
the 517 years that were to elapse between the prophecy and the birth 
of Jesus Christ. It really is a little while as compared with God's 
eternity, which the prophet has in view, as compared with the several 
thousand years that had already elapsed after the first promise of the 
Messias, and finally as compared with the duration of the Christian 
dispensation which was to begin at the end of the 517 years. Hence 
it follows: 1. That the prophet does not wholly insist on the short- 
ness of time before the Messias should arrive ; 2. that in reality two 
things are predicted by the phrase : a. the shortness of time to the 
coming of the Messias; h. the stability of the new covenant, which is 
to be concluded after that short period ; ?>. the LXX. version and the 
Syriac, rendering the phrase "once more," give only one half of the 
real meaning. St. Paul (Heb. xii. 20, 27) implies both meanings; the 
Clialdee paraphrase, too, clearly indicates both significations. 

9 The desired of all nations shall come. There are two principal 
difficulties connected with these words : 1. the verb "shall come" is 


house with glory, 1 saith the Lord of hosts. ' The silver is mine, 

in the plural number in the Hebrew text ; 2. the "desire of all 
nations" may be taken eitlier subjectively or objectively. 

1. Of the first point various explanations have been given : a. The 
subject of the clause is indefinite, so that we must render: "they 
shall come with the desire of the nations," i.e., "with the most 
precious things." But such a rare and uncommon ellipsis cannot be 
admitted as long as we are able to find another interpretation. 
b. Bade, with a few others, explains the plural number as a plural 
of majesty, because, according to him, the subject is the Messias. 
But it must be kept in mind that where the plural of majesty occurs 
in the verb it is also found in the subject (cf. Gen. xx. 18 ; xxxv. 7 ; 
IT. Kings vii. 23, etc.) ; Is. xlv. 8 is no exception to this rule, since 
in that passage the plural verb refers to a subject taken in a collec- 
tive sense, c. Others again have explained the plural verb as refer- 
ring back to the plural genitive in the phrase "the desire of all 
nations." Though such a construction is found in Hebrew, still it 
supposes that the thought expressed by the possessive is the princi- 
pal idea of the whole phrase. Now, this is not the case in the present 
passage, d. It is therefore preferable to regard the subject " the de- 
sire of all nations" as an abstract term, implying all the various ben- 
efits that are contained in the Messianic blessings. For we shall see 
in the next paragraph that the clause has a Messianic meaning. 

2. The second hermeneutic difficulty connected with our passage 
regards the precise meaning of its subject, "the desire of all nations." 

a. The clause has a subjective meaning, i.e., it refers to that people 
among all the nations which is most desired. It must therefore be 
rendered "the most desirable of all nations " (Hitzig, Umbreit, Ewald 
formerly, Scholz, Hengst.). Similar constructions occur in Os. xiii. 
15 (vessels of desire), Ps. cv. (cvi.) 24 (land of desire) ; Ezech. xxvi. 
12 (houses of thy desire) ; Jer. xii. 10 (my portion of desire), etc. But 
it should be noted that in all these instances the word meaning "de- 
sire" follows the other noun of the phrase. In the present passage, 
on the contrary, the word "desire" precedes its companion noun. 

b. There are two passages in the Old Testament besides the one we 
are now discussing in which the Hebrew noun meaning "desire" 
precedes its noun. In I. Kings ix. 20 we read " the whole longing of 
Israel;" in Dan. xi. 37 the prophet speaks about "the desire of 
women." Now in both these cases the clause in interpreted objec- 
tively, i.e., the word " desire" stands for that which is desired. But 
there now rises the further question : What did the prophet mean by 
" that which all the nations desire "? 

a. All the Messianic blessings taken collectively are indicated by 
the phrase, because all nations desired these blessings (cf. Bom. viii. 
10-22 ; Is. ii. 2 f.; xi. 10 ; Ix. 9 ; (Jen. xlix. 10) ; the same blessings 
were given in the temple, because it was there that Jesus preached 
the principal truths of the Christian dispensation (cf. Jo. ii. 19 ; vii. 
14 f. ; viii. 2 f . ; x. 23 1'.); the temple therefore is truly represented 
as partaking of the glory of the Messianic blessing, and the context 
(the predicate of the phrase is a plural verb) appears to require such 
a collective meaning of "the desire of all nations." 


and the gold is mine,' saith the Lord of hosts. ' Great shall be 
the glory of this last house more than of the first,' saith the Lord 
of hosts ; 'and in this place I will give peace,' saith the Lord of 


1. History shows us that God moved all the nations 
before the coming of Jesus Christ. The Persian kingdom 
fell before Alexander; Alexander's world-empire was di- 
vided among his four successors, two of whom continued 
and two fell before the Romans; then followed the Roman 
civil wars, until under Augustus the temple of Janus could 
be shut, and universal peace reigned upon the earth. 

The heavens too were moved about the period of re- 
demption by the star which led the wise men to Bethlehem, 
by the angels who announced the newly-born Saviour to 

b. Most Catholic interpreters and several Protestant writers (Pusey, 
e.g.) understand by the " desire of all nations" the person of the Mes- 
sias. a. The plural verb does not appear to contradict this meaning, 
because a person may well be represented as the object of our desires; 
thus we read in Cicero (Fam. xiv. 2) a husband's farewell to his 
wife: " Farewell, my longings, farewell." (5. Besides, the person of 
Christ was more closely connected with the temple than the preach- 
ing of his doctrine was, and the words " I will till this house with 
glory " seem to require rather a personal presence than a mere doc 
trinal intiuence. y . The parallel prophecy (Mai. iii 1) too refers to 
the person of the Messias, so that we must seek a similar reference in 
the present prophecy. S. Nor can it be said that the Messias did 
not enter the second temple, but rather that of Zorobabel. First, 
this exception would be equally valid against the previous interpreta- 
tion. Then, a passage of Josephus ( Antiq. XV. xi. 1) shows that Herod 
did not destroy Zorobabel's temple in order to erect a new edifice, 
but that he rebuilt part after part, leaving the new edifice morally 
identical with the preceding one. Thirdly, the Jews well understood 
this, since they never speak of a third temple, but only of a first and a 
second one. Besides all this, it will be remembered that in verse 4 
the prophet says: " Who is left among you that saw this house in its 
first glory?" There is question of "this house" and its "first 
glory." The "glory " evidently refers to that of Solomon's temple; 
the word "this house" must therefore be taken not literally of the 
second temple then building, but rather of the temple as the repre- 
sentative of all Jewish temples, past or future. The prophet con- 
tinues, contrasting not temple with temple, but the " first glory " 
with the glory to come (cf. Corluy, Spicil. i. 522; Pusey, "Minor 
Proph.," in h. 1.). 


the shepherds, by the preternatural darkness that clouded 
the skies during the hours of Christ's passion, by Jesus' 
ascension into the highest heavens, by the descent of the 
Holy Ghost with a sound from heaven as if of a mighty 
wind coming, and above all by the commotion in the very 
bosom of the Most Holy Trinity, if we may speak in this 
manner without irreverence — a commotion which resulted 
from the Second Person's putting on the weak mortal flesh 
of man in the womb of the ever Blessed Virgin Mary. 

God had moved the sea when the Israelites passed 
through the Eed Sea, and later on through the Jordan, 
when there was dry ground in the sea, a wall in the waves, 
a path in the waters; and God moved the waters again 
when the Lord of heaven not only sailed over the surface 
of the sea, but walked thereon without peril, commanded 
the angry fury of the storm, and bade the deep be still. 

In the Old Testament God moved the dry land when 
the wilderness supplied a daily harvest of heavenly food, 
when the rock gushed forth fountains of water. But the 
dry land was moved again when the rocks were split, when 
the graves were opened at the death of Christ, when the 
unfruitful people of the Gentiles ripened to a harvest of 
faith and devotion. 

2. The desired of all nations came and filled the temple 
with glory when he was presented in the temple by his 
parents, and was proclaimed by Simeon to be God's own 
salvation, " prepared before the face of all the peoples as a 
light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and as the glory of 
the people Israel " (Luke ii. 30-32). Again did the desired 
of all nations fill the temple with glory when he purged 
it from all defilement, driving out all the buyers and sellers, 
and restoring to the place its proper sanctity. Well then 
might the prophet say: " The gold is mine, and the silver is 
mine," showing that these outward riches appear des- 
picable when compared with the presence of Jesus Christ. 

3. Peace too did God give in Jerusalem through his 
Christ when the angels proclaimed peace to men at the 


Redeemer's birth, when Jesns left that peace to his apostles 
before his suffering, which, dying on the cross, he merited 
for all men, and which the apostles have preached to all 
nations (Luke ii. 14; Jo. xiv. 27; xx. 19, 21; Rom. v. 1; 
Actsx. 36; Eph. ii. 14-18). 


THE VIRGIN MOTHER. Is. vn. 1-17. 


1. History and Occasion of the Prophecy.— We learn 
from IV. Kings xvi. 1-4 that Acliaz despised the traditions 
of his fathers, and openly professed idolatry. Hence he 
was given over by God into the hands of the Syrian king, 
who carried off immense booty to his royal capital, Damas- 
cus. But the king of Israel too afflicted the kingdom of 
Jnda with exceeding bitter afflictions (II. Par. xxviii. 5) — 
so much so that he slew of Juda a hundred and twenty 
thousand on a single day. But this war, which was a 
real chastisement of Achaz on the part of God, had also its 
special natural causes. 

It appears that an alliance had been concluded between 
Phacee, king of Israel, and Rasin, king of Damascus, for the 
purpose of opposing a barrier to the Assyrian aggressions. 
Cherishing Assyrian proclivities as Achaz did, he did not 
join the coalition; the allies therefore invaded his terri- 
tories, intending to dethrone Achaz and substitute for him 
a more subservient ruler, a certain son of Tabeel. The in- 
vasion caused great alarm in Jerusalem, though Phacee 
alone appears at first to have gone against the capital, 
while Rasin was occupied in reconquering the maritime 
city, Elath. After this victory he must have joined his ally 
in his assault on Jerusalem. Achaz meditated casting 
himself on Assyria for help — a policy of which the prophet 
Isaias strongly disapproved. He was divinely instructed 
to assure Achaz that his fears were groundless, and that 


the two kingdoms were doomed to destruction. To over- 
come the king's distrust, the prophet offers to give him a 
sign; but through the king's diffidence the sign becomes an 
omen of ruin for Juda: the land will indeed be saved from 
the two kings according to God's promise, but the land of 
Juda will become the battle-ground in the conflict between 
the Egyptian and the Assyrian armies. 

Achaz, however, sent his messengers to the Assyrian king 
Theglathphalasar, asking for his help in present distress 
(II. Par. xxviii. 16; IV. Kings xvi. 7). The Assyrian 
monarch complied with Achaz' request and invaded 
Damascus; the allied kings had therefore to abandon their 
warlike designs on Juda and provide for their own safety 
(IV. Kings xvi. 5, 6). Theglathphalasar transported the 
inhabitants of Damascus to Gyrene, and killed its king, 
Rasin (IV. Kings xvi. 9). Then he invaded also the king- 
dom of Israel, and transported a number of its inhabitants 
into Assyria (IV. Kings xv. 29). Phaceo, the Israelite 
king, was slain by conspirators in the seventeenth year of 
his reign, and in the third year of Achaz' rule, i.e., in the 
same year in which the two allied kings had invaded the 
kingdom of Juda (IV. Kings xv. 30). But after subduing 
the Syrian and the Samaritan kings, the Assyrian conqueror 
invaded also the kingdom of Juda and devastated it with- 
out resistance, so that only few inhabitants with their herds 
and cattle remained (II. Par. xxviii. 20; cf. Is. viii. 7,8). 

2. Erroneous Explanations of the Prophecy. — a. 
Several of the ancient Jewish writers maintain that the 
Emmanuel promised to be born of the virgin is Achaz' 
son and successor, Ezechias. But it must be remembered 
that Ezechias was about eight or nine years old at the time 
of the prophecy, for he was twenty-five years old Avhen he 
began to reign, i.e., about 15 or 10 years after the prophecy 
was given (IV. Kings xviii. 2). 

b. Several rationalistic authors and the GathoKc writer 
Tsenbiehl regard Emmanuel as the son of a virgin who will 
lose her virginity in the conception and birth of the boy. 


The name Emmanuel is nothing but a symbol, just as the 
names Schear - Iashub and Malier - Shalal - Chash - Baz are 
symbolic. The sign consists in Isaias' predicting that the 
virgin will conceive in her first intercourse, and that she 
will bring forth a boy. The foreknowledge of both of 
these circumstances requires a special divine assistance, and 
is therefore rightly represented as a sign. This opinion 
will be refuted in the course of our treatment of the 

c. Delitzsch has a rather curious explanation of the 
prophecy. According to him God had revealed two future 
facts to Isaias— the virginal conception of the Messias and 
the immediate liberation of Juda from its oppressors. 
The time of the Messias' coming had, however, not been 
made known to the prophet. Isaias, therefore, trying to 
combine the two prophecies, was of the opinion that the 
birth of the Messias would precede the liberation of the 
theocratic kingdom. The result is that the prophecy 
represents the Messias as being about to be born, and de- 
scribes the land of Juda as about to be freed before the 
Messias will have attained the use of reason, i.e., before he 
will have reached the years of discretion. It may be of 
interest to know that Rosenmiiller too gives a similar ex- 

If it be observed that according to this view there would 
be an error in the prophecy, both authors deny such an 
inference on the plea that the time of the Messias' birth 
was not revealed to the prophet, but that the erroneous 
inference must be ascribed to his own private judgment, 
lint if this be admitted as a true solution of the difficulty, 
it follows that in any prophecy we can hardly know what 
has been revealed by God to the prophet and what must be 
ascribed to his own private view on the subject. 

3. Messianic Nature of the Prophecy.— a. The Mes- 
sianic character of the present proj^hecy appears first of all 
from the testimony of St. Matthew, i. 18-25: "... Now 
all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord 


spoke by the prophet, saying : Behold a virgin shall 
be with child . . ." There are two exceptions to this 
argument: 1. It is said that the first two chapters of St. 
Matthew's gospel are spurious. But this can hardly be 
asserted without the greatest temerity, not to say without 
heresy. For the Tridentine and the Vatican councils 
(Trid. sess. iv., decret. de can. Script.; Vatic, sess. iii. c. 2) 
openly declare that the whole Bible, with all its parts, as 
it is contained in the old Vulgate edition, is sacred, canoni- 
cal, and divinely inspired (Vat.) ; on the other hand, there 
is in our days no critic worthy of the name who rejects 
the first two chapters of St. Matthew's gospel without 
rejecting all the rest. 

2. The second exception against our inference that 
Isaias' prophecy is Messianic because St. Matthew viewed 
it as such may be found in Isenbiehl (Neuer Versuch iiber 
die Weissagung vom Emmanuel, 1778). The author as- 
sures us that the evangelist's words, " that it might be 
fulfilled," may indicate a mere accommodation of the proph- 
ecy to Christ's conception. In support of this he ap- 
peals to St. Jerome's saying (Ep. 103 ad Paulin., c. 7), 
that Socrates' words were "fulfilled" in him: "I only 
know that I do not know." Again, Isenbiehl endeavors to 
prove that St. Matthew repeatedly uses the formula " that 
it might be fulfilled" where he applies an Old Testament 
prophecy to our Lord by mere accommodation. Thus Matt, 
ii. 15 applies to Christ what Os. xi. 1 applies to the people 
of Israel; Matt. ii. 18 applies to the infants slain at Beth- 
lehem what Jer. xxxi. 15 applies to the lamentations over 
the national misfortune in the Babylonian reverses; Matt. 
ii. 23 applies the words " he shall be called a Nazarite" as 
if they were prophetic of Jesus Christ, though they are 
nowhere to be found in the prophets; Matt. xiii. 13-15 ap- 
plies to the following of Christ what Is. vi. 9, 10 had said 
of his own contemporaries. 

Plausible as this exception may appear at first sight, it 
does not rest on solid ground, a. First of all, the author 


who urges it does not distinguish between the typical and 
the literal meaning of the prophecies, and consequently he 
does not keep in mind that as the literal meaning of a 
prophecy is properly and not by mere accommodation ap- 
plied to the people of Israel or to Old Testament occur- 
rences, so may its typical sense be applied to Christ and 
to events of the Christian dispensation without on that 
account becoming a mere accommodation. In this manner 
St. Matthew (ii. 15, 18) applies the prophecies of Os. xi. 1 
and Jer. xxxi. 15 to Christ's flight into Egypt and to the 
slaughter of the holy Innocents. (3. Again, Isenbiehl is 
not aware that St. Matthew ii. 23 most probably reads 
" flower," and thus alludes to Isaias' prediction, xi. 1, where 
the future Messias is called a flower from the root of Jesse. 
y. In the third place, the author disregards the fact that 
a number of prophecies apply properly, not by mere ac- 
commodation, to a series of events rather than to any single 
fact of history. An instance of such a prediction we find, 
e.g., in II. Kings vii. 14, where the divine promises regard 
the whole line of David's descendants. They are not all 
fulfilled in every member of the series, but they are fully 
accomplished in the whole series taken collectively. Hence 
they may be properly and literally applied to any Davidic 
king. In the same manner St. Matthew applies Is. vi. 9, 
10 to the unbelieving Jews in xiii. 13-15. 

b. The second proof for the Messianic character of the 
prophecy is taken from the unanimous testimony of the 
Fathers on this point. A list of the patristic testimonies 
may be seen in Kilber's Analysis Biblica (editio altera, t. 
i. pp. 354 i). There are again two main exceptions to this 
argument from the Fathers: 1. The Fathers speak on the 
false supposition that Isaias' prophecy rests on divine 
authority; 2. The Fathers express in their opinions on the 
present passage, not the doctrine of the Church, but their 
own private conviction, a. As to the first exception, it 
suffices for our purpose to recall the decree of the Vatican 
Council (iii. 2), according to which the agreement of the 


Fathers on a doctrinal point is in itself sufficient to com- 
mand our assent, or at least to force us not to contradict the 
patristic testimony, ft. As to the second exception, we 
must insist that the Fathers do not express their interpreta- 
tion of the prophecy as a private opinion, but they repre- 
sent it as the doctrine of the Church on a matter of Scrip- 
ture interpretation, so that according to the council we are 
bound not to differ from it in substance. For though the 
Fathers may differ among themselves in details, they 
surely agree as to the main drift of the prophecy, giving it 
a Messianic signification. 

c. The third argument for the Messianic character of 
Isaias' prophecy may be taken from the general agreement 
of this prediction with other evidently Messianic prophecies. 

(v. First of all, the very context of the prophecy bears wit- 
ness to its Messianic nature. The child who is to be born, 
according to the seventh chapter, as a sign unto Achaz must 
naturally be expected to surpass in its nature any other 
sign that Achaz himself could have asked of God. Then 
in the next chapter it is announced in verse 8 that " the 
stretching out of his wings shall till the breadth of thy 
land, Emmanuel." If Ave compare the ninth chapter 
with this statement, it appears that Emmanuel shall be 
the Lord of the land of Juda. Since then at the time of 
the prophet none other than Achaz and Ezechiel were the 
lords of the land of Juda, to neither of whom the predic- 
tion could apply, we must suppose it applies to some one 
much above either of them — to the Messias himself. Again, 
in the ninth chapter, the prophet predicts salvation to the 
land of Juda through the child that is to be born. Now 
if this be not Emmanuel, of whom there is question in the 
seventh chapter, it must be Maher-Shalal, of the eighth 
chapter. But the latter was never king in Juda, nor did 
he ever perform any act that would be worthy of attention. 
Hence it is clear that the child who will save Juda is the 
Emmanuel of chapter seven. But the liberator of Juda 
is evidently identical with the Messias. Consequently, 


the Emmanuel of our prophecy is the Messias. In the 
eleventh chapter the prophet again returns to the rod that 
is to spring from the root of Jesse, to the most renowned 
offspring of David, whose reign will cause universal peace, 
under whose reign the Lord will possess the remnant of 
his chosen people. Now this one can he no other than the 
hero described in the ninth chapter, and the Emmanuel 
promised in the seventh chapter, i.e., the very Messias (cf. 
ix. 2-4, and x. 20-22; Rom. ix. 27). 

fi. The Messianic reference of the present prophecy 
appears also when we compare it with the well-known 
prophecy of Micheas (v. 2 ff.) The similitude behveen the 
two predictions is so striking that we must admit either 
that Isaias reproduced the prophecy of Micheas, or that the 
latter repeated the prophetic promise of the former. Mi- 
cheas says that God will give "them up even till the time 
wherein she that travaileth shall bring forth and the 
remnant of his brethren shall be converted to the children 
of Israel . . . and this man shall be our peace." How 
beautifully all this illustrates the prophecy of Isaias, if we 
suppose the latter prophet had about the same time uttered 
the prediction of the virgin's conception and her vir- 
ginal child-birth! And, on the other hand, how clear the 
prophecy concerning the virgin and her son Emmanuel 
becomes if we suppose that Isaias alludes to the prophecy 
of Micheas which had recently been uttered (cf. Is. x. 20- 
22; xi. 11; iv. 3). But if Isaias speaks about a virgin 
concerning whom nothing else was known to the people of 
Israel, all becomes a riddle and an enigma. These five 
prophecies therefore form, as it were, one single whole; so 
much so that they have been regarded as constituting a 
single book— the book of Emmanuel. And if they be con- 
sidered from this point of view, their Messianic character 
can hardly be called in question even by the most exacting 
of critics. 

d. Three other arguments for the Messianic nature of 


Isaias' prophecy are bettor omitted, since they are not 
altogether convincing. 

a. For if it be urged that the child which is to be 
born will be the offspring of a virgin, and that this is 
a distinctly Messianic note, it must be remembered, on 
the other hand, that, prescinding from the N>w Testa- 
ment, it is not clear from the text of the prophecy 
whether the promised child will be the offspring of a vir- 
gin in any other sense than any first-born child is the off- 
spring of a virgin. The virgin may be said by the prophet 
to conceive and to bring forth, as the blind are said to see, 
the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. Nor can it be 
maintained that the virgin must remain a virgin in her 
conception and delivery, because otherwise there would be 
no sign which the prophet had promised to give. For the 
sign may consist in the wonderful nature of the child, or 
in several other particulars connected with the predic- 
tion, as will be seen in the course of the commentary. 

fi. Another argument for the Messianic character of the 
prediction is based on the fact that in the prophecy there 
is question of " the virgin;" the definite article, it is 
claimed, indicates that the virgin spoken of is virgin by 
excellence, and not merely as the mother of any first-born 
child is a virgin. But this consideration has not much 
weight, since the definite article in Hebrew has not neces- 
sarily that meaning, even when it is used with a noun that 
does not occur beforehand. For even in that case the noun 
is at times considered sufficiently known to require or, at 
least, to admit the definite article. This is seen in Gen. 
iii. 24: "and (he) placed before the paradise of pleasure 
Cherubim (Heb., the Cherubim)"; Ex. xv. 20: "So Mary 
the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel (Heb., 
the timbrel) in her hand;" Gen. xiv. 13: "and behold one 
that had escaped (Heb., the one that had escaped) told 
Abram the Hebrew." 

y. Other authors, again, have urged the following 
argument in favor of the Messianic character of Isaias/ 


prophecy : according to the Hebrew text it is the mother 
who will name the child Emmanuel; for we must either 
render "thou shalt call his name" (the phrase being a 
direct address to the mother), or " she shall call his name." 
Therefore, they say, Emmanuel has no human father who 
can perform this duty. But, on the other hand, we see in 
the Old Testament that the mother in several instances 
named her child, although its father was actually present 
(cf. Gen. iv. 1, 25; xix. 37; xxi. 32; xxx. 18 f.; xxx. 24; I.. 
Kings i. 20, etc., exemplifying this statement). 

e. But there is another proof for the Messianic reference 
of Isaias' prediction which cannot be omitted here; Jewish 
tradition considered the passage as referring to the prom- 
ised Messias. In the first place, we may draw attention to 
the fact that St. Matthew applied the prophecy to Jesus 
Christ without any one contradicting him. And this is 
the more remarkable, since the Evangelist wrote his gospel 
for the Jews, proving to them the Messiasship of Jesus 
from the fulfilment of all the prophecies in his sacred per- 
son. Besides, we have the implicit avowal of the LXX. 
translators, who rendered the Hebrew word " virgin " 
in this prophecy, though in four other passages they had 
translated it by " woman/' Then again the Hebrew as. well 
as the other national traditions, according to which virgin- 
ity is worthy of special honor, and which make their divine 
heroes sons of virgins, without the intercourse of man, show 
that Isaias' prophecy must have been understood by the 
ancients as referring to the birth of the future Kedeemer. 

Is. vn. 1-17. 

And it came to pass in the days of Achaz the son of Joathan, 
the son of Ozias king of Jucla, that Iiasiii king of Syria, and 
Phacee the son of Romelia king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem, 
to light against it ; but they could not prevail over it. And they 
told the house of David, saying: "Syria hath rested upon 
Ephraim ; " and his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, 
as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind. And the 


Lord said to Isaias : ' " Go forth to meet Achaz, thou and Jasub 
thy son that is left, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, 
in the way of the fuller's iield." 2 And thou shalt say to him : 

1 Go forth to meet Achaz. The first sentences of Isaias' account 
are clear from the historical paragraphs that have been premised to 
this prophecy. While Rasin besieged Elath, Phacee had endeavored 
to deal with the capital ; " but they could not prevail." After Elath 
had fallen into Kasin's hands, the latter joined his troops with those 
of Phacee, " Syria hath rested upon Ephraim," whereupon Achaz' 
heart was moved and the heart of his people, as the trees of the 
woods are moved with the wind. Preparations for a serious and pro- 
tracted siege must now be made at Jerusalem ; hence Achaz is occu- 
pied near the upper pool from which the city had to receive the 
greatest part of its water supply. The fuller's field, i.e., their wash- 
ing or bleaching-place, lay either on the western side of the city 
(Robinson, Schultz, van Haunier, Thenius, Unruh, Schick, etc.), or, 
according to a less probable opinion, to the northeast (Williams, 
Kraft, Meier, Hitzig, etc.). To this place, then, the prophet was told 
to repair, together with Jasub, or Shear-Jasub, his son. The very 
names of the two visitors were real symbols of their divine mission. 
Isaias, meaning "salvation of the Lord," announces the hopeful 
character of the visitation, while "Shear-Jasub," meaning "the 
remnant shall return," or " the remnant is converted," is in itself a 
commentary on Is. vi. 11-13, and combines in a brief summary Clod's 
threats and promises. There will be final safety for Israel, but only 
for its remnant, so that the divine curse in a manner precedes the 
divine blessing. 

' 2 And thou shalt say to him. The divine message to Achaz may be 
divided into three parts : 1. God warns the king to "be quiet," i.e., 
not to act precipitately, and not to be afraid of the two tails of these 
fire-brands, i.e., the two fag-ends of wood-pokers, half burned off and 
wholly burned out, so that they do not burn, but keep on smoking. 
2. In the second place God gives Achaz a prophecy in order to show 
him that his advice indicates the proper course to follow. In the 
introduction to this prediction the prophet summarizes the whole 
situation of the three kings ; then he assures Achaz in general terms 
that the intentions of the king of Syria and of Samaria will not be 
put into practice : "It shall not stand, and this shall not be !" After 
this general prediction, Isaias adds three more prophecies regarding 
the special fate of the three kingdoms concerned, a. Syria is to gain 
nothing by the undertaking. It will be in future, as it has been in 
the past : " the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus 
is Rasin." b. Regarding Samaria the prophet utters a double predic- 
tion : the first has reference to the far-off future, " within threescore 
and five years Ephraim shall cease to be a people ; " the second is 
concerned with the immediate future of the northern kingdom, " the 
head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria the son of 

It may be noted in passing that the sixty-five years assigned to the 
time of Samaria's final destruction do not end with the beginning of 
the Assyrian captivity, which began in 722 b.g\, but terminate at the 


" See thou be quiet ; fear not, and let not thy heart be afraid of 
the two tails of these firebrands, smoking with the wrath of the 
fury of Rasin king of Syria and of the son of Romelia. Because 
Syria with the son of Romelia hath taken counsel against thee, 
unto the evil of Ephraim, saying : Let us go up to Juda, and 
rouse it up, and draw it away to us and make the son of Tabeel 

time when Assyrian settlers were colonizing Samaria under the reign 
of Asarhaddon. For since the present prophecy was uttered in the 
beginning of Achaz' reign, the 14 years of that king, together with 
the 29 years of his successor Ezechias and the 22 years which his 
successor Manasses ruled before he was carried off to the land of 
his exile, will give about the required number of 65 years. We 
know that this explanation of the 65 years rests on several supposi- 
tions that are not absolutely certain ; they are, however, sufficiently 
probable to justify our conjecture. For though the year in which 
Samaria was thus colonized is not certain, it seems very natural that 
this should have taken place after the defeat of Manasses, which the 
Talmud in the tract "Seder Olam" places in the 22d year of 
Manasses' reign. 

This explanation, in itself very probable, becomes still more so 
when compared with other attempts of interpretation that have been 
given concerning the passage, a. For some contend that the term 
from which the 65 years must be reckoned is the time when Amos 
(vii. 11, 17) gave utterance to his prophecy, i.e., the 25th year. of 
Ozias. The term at which the 65 years end is the 6th year of 
Ezechias, when Samaria was subdued in war and ceased to be a king- 
dom. The 65 years are, then : 27 under Ozias, 16 under Joathan, 16 
under Achaz, and 6 under Ezechias (Euseb. , Procop., Barh., llaimo, 
St. Thorn., Malv., Pint., Maid., Lap., Mar., Gordon, Schegg, and cer- 
tain Jewish commentators). It is plain that this exposition of the 
text hardly agrees with the words of Isaias. (5. Another way of in- 
terpreting the 65 years is found in Sanchez, Rohling, Oppert, etc.; 
according to this view the years refer to the past, so that the term to 
which they bring us is the 27th year of Jeroboam II., when Samaria 
was for 10 years deprived of its independence by Syria. The sense 
of the passage is then that, as in the past Samaria has suffered re- 
verses in war, so it will in the future be entirely destroyed. But the 
Hebrew particle that precedes the number 65 points to the future 
rather than to the past (be'od). y. There is still another class of 
interpreters who explain the difficulty by endeavoring to remove it 
entirely ; the second part of verse 8 is, according to these authors, to 
be expunged from the text as an interpolation. The principal reasons 
for this opinion are reduced to the following : the prophecy becomes 
too definite by the number 65, and the second member of verse 8 de- 
stroys the metrical harmony and poetic parallelism of the passage 
(Eichhorn, Oesenius, Maurer, Hitzig, Ewald, Umbreit, Dietrich). On 
the other hand, the exact number of years stated by the prophet can- 
not seem objectionable to any one who admits the supernatural char- 
acter of the prediction. The phraseology of Qb. is in strict accord 
with that of Isaias in other passages (cf. xxi. 16; xvii. 1 ; xxv. 2). 


king in the midst thereof : " thus saith the Lord God : " It shall 
not stand, and this shall not be ! But the head of Syria is Damas- 
cus, and the head of Damascus is Rasin, and within threescore 
and five years Ephraim shall cease to be a people. And the head 
of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria the son of 
Romelia. If you will not believe, you shall not continue." 

The parallelism rather demands than excludes the second part of 
verse 8, since it will be seen that concerning Juda too the prophet 
predicts both the immediate and the far-off state of affairs (cf. 
Delitzsch, i. pp. 199 ff.; Knabenb., i. p. 156). 

c. The third prophecy which the seer utters concerns Juda, indi- 
cating the general method which the Lord will follow in his future 
dealings with that state ; it is both threatening and conditional in its 
nature. " If you do not believe, you shall not continue." The only 
condition, then, on which Juda can retain its political independence 
is full trust in God ; Assyrian help will be no safeguard against po- 
litical destruction. 

3. The third part of Isaias' prophetic mission to Achaz consists in 
trying whether Juda does trust the Lord. Juda is represented by the 
actual head of David's royal house, — by Achaz, — so that on Achaz' 
faith or unfaith depends the safety of the theocracy. God's decree is : 
If Juda does not believe, it shall not continue. But does Juda be- 
lieve? The trial will show it. "Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy 
God." If the sign is asked, this will prove a sufficient token of 
Juda's trust in the Lord God. But Juda answers in its representa- 
tive : "I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord." The king's hy- 
pocritical answer decides the fate of Juda for more than two thousand 
years, as far as our experience goes. Alluding to Deut. vi. 16, where 
presumption is forbidden, Achaz seeks in that passage a cloak for 
his continuance in his Assyrian policy. Deliverance he desires, but 
does not expect or wish it through God's help. 

Juda's trial over, the prophet announces more in particular the 
future fate of the kingdom. More in particular, we say, because it 
has been announced already in general terms. " If you do not be- 
lieve, you shall not continue." But you do not believe. Therefore 
you shall not continue. The detailed description of Juda's future re 
gards first its far-off future , secondly, its nearer future, a. As to the 
far-off future of Juda, the child Emmanuel, who shall be born of the 
well-known virgin, the stay, the hope, the crowning glory of David's 
royal house, "shall eat butter and honey," i.e., he shall live in the 
country of butter and honey, outside of Juda, and consequently in 
exile ; and he shall eat butter and honey, the food of the poor and the 
lowly, so that at his time the royal house of David will be reduced to 
poverty and exile, b. In the immediate future the fate of Juda will be 
varied : before the child that is appealed too would attain the use of 
reason, if it were born here and now, the two hostile kings will have 
disappeared from the confines of Juda; but since Achaz has been 
found wanting in faith, the Assyrian, in whom he trusts, will invade 
Juda and make it the battle-ground between his and the Egyptian 


And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying: "Ask thee 3 a 

8 A sign. The prophecy speaks of a double sign : 1. Achaz is in- 
vited to ask for a sign ; 2. the prophet himself gives a sign. Both 
signs call for a word of explanation. 1 . Isaias invites Achaz to ask 
for a sign. a. Hitzig maintains that the prophet here " played a 
dangerous game," in which the Lord would surely have "left him in 
the lurch," if the king had chosen to ask for a sign. Meier observes 
that it cannot have entered the prophet's mind to wish for a miracle. 
De Lagarde says that the failure of his sign would have subjected 
the prophet to punishment for lying. But all these are mere a 
priori arguments, resting on the supposition that miracles do not 
happen, b Omitting the question whether we ought to render the 
prophet's words " ask it either in the depth or in the height above " 
or "make it deep unto Sheol or heighten it to on high," it must 
suffice to enumerate a few opinions regarding the nature of the offered 
sign . a. Choose between seeing the earth split down to the abyss of 
hell, and beholding the heavens opened to the throne of the Most 
High (Haimo, Pint., Sasb., Lap , Men.) /J The sign in the heavens 
might be similar to that granted to Josue (Jos. x. 12), or to the thun- 
der, the storm, and the fire which occurred in the days of Samuel and 
Elias (I. Kings xii. 17 , IV. Kings i. 10), while the sign in the deep 
might resemble the destruction of Core, Dathan and Abiron, or the 
death of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, or again the miraculous de- 
liverance of Jonas from the belly of the great fish (Basil, Procop., 
Thorn., Sanch., Calmet). 

2. The prophet promises a sign in spite of, or rather because of, 
Achaz' refusal to ask for one. Explanations . a. Delitzsch (p. 210) 
is of opinion that the sign consists in the mystery which surrounds 
the prediction about the pregnant virgin bringing forth a son — a 
mystery which threatens the house of David, and which affords com- 
fort to the prophet and to all believers. It hardly needs proof that 
such a mystery is, at best, a very unsatisfactory explanation of the 
promised sign. b. The sign consists in the prophet's prediction that 
a certain virgin would conceive in her first intercourse with man, 
that she would give birth to a son rather than a daughter, and that 
this son would be called Emmanuel — a name which resembled in its 
symbolic meaning the names of Isaias' two sons. a. But, according 
to this explanation, Emmanuel is entirely distinct from the Messias, 
which contradicts the above proofs for the Messianic character of the 
prophecy. (5. Again, history knows nothing of a son called Em- 
manuel whose age of discretion was accompanied by the liberation 
of Juda from the kings of Syria and Samaria, c. The sign consists 
in the prediction of Juda's liberation from the oppression of its ene- 
mies, a. But the whole context would in this manner become ex- 
tremely insipid and meaningless. ft. Besides, the sign is intended 
to strengthen the king's faith in the divine promise of Juda's future 
liberation, and can therefore be hardly identified with this prophetic 
promise, d. The sign consists wholly in the fact that a virgin, re- 
maining virgin, will conceive and give birth to a son — the very Em- 
manuel, or the promised Messias. a. This explanation supposes that 
the sign that God gives to Achaz is a wholly favorable sign. Now 


sign of the Lord thy God, either unto the depth of hell or unto 

it appears from the context that this cannot be the case. Juda has 
not believed; therefore it will not continue; therefore "the Lord 
himself shall give a sign " to Juda. ji. The sign must represent the 
double character of God's dealing with David's royal house : he will 
chastise it with the rod of men, but will not take away his mercy 
from it. Now the fact that the Messias will be born of a virgin, re- 
maining a virgin in his conception and birth illustrates only God's 
mercy to the house of David, but does not exhibit his justice, e. 
The sign consists. partially in the virginal birth of the Alessias, but 
partially also in his having to eat butter and honey, i.e., in his hav- 
ing to live far away from the capital of his ancestors in poverty and 
exile. The composite character of this sign satisfies the two essential 
conditions which it requires : a. God's mercy will not depart from 
David's royal house, since the Messias will be born indeed, fi. God 
will, however, chastise the royal house of Juda, since its worldly 
glory will be humbled to the dust of the earth, y. The phrase " he 
shall eat butter and honey " implies such a state of humiliation as is 
required by the context. For " butter and honey " means either the 
thickened milk and honey, which are the usual food of the tenderest 
age of childhood (Gesenius, Hengstenberg, etc.), or the food that is 
usually taken in the desert (Delitzsch). Now the former of these 
two meanings is excluded by the sentences that follow the phrase 
" he shall eat butter and honey." For in them the child is, on the 
one hand, represented as eating the assigned food up to the years of 
discretion, and, on the other, the land before whose two kings Achaz 
is in terror will before the same period of time be laid waste, so that 
only the food of the desert will remain (cf. Delitzsch, pp. 210 f.). 

There are, however, two main difficulties against this explanation 
of the prophecy : 1. The Messias will be born more than 700 years 
after the date of the prediction. His virginal conception and birth, 
and his poverty and humility cannot then be given as a sign to the 
contemporaries of Isaias. 2. According to the text Rasin and 
Phacee will leave Judea before the child shall attain his years of dis- 
cretion ; now this happened within two years after the prediction. 
Again, according to verse 22, Judea itself shall be devastated, so that 
" butter and honey shall every one eat that shall be left in the midst 
of the land." Emmanuel too shall share this fate, as appears from 
the connection of the prophecy. Now Judea's devastation by the 
Assyrians happened after they had laid waste the kingdoms of Syria 
and Samaria. Hence it seems that the promised Emmanuel must 
have been born immediately after the time of the prophecy. 

Different answers have been given to both difficulties. Answers 
to the first exception : a. The sign must precede the event in con- 
firmation of which it is given when there is question of a common 
miraculous sign ; but in tin; case of a prophecy, when the one who 
utters the prediction is generally acknowledged as a prophet, it is not 
necessary that the fulfilment precede the event in confirmation of 
which it is given. Similar instances we find in I. Kings x. 2-8; Kx. 
iii. 12; IV. Kings xix. 20 ; Is. xxxvii. 30. In the case of Isaias we 
may add the following consideration : It might well be that the 


the height above. 1 ' And Achaz said : " I will not ask, and I will 

king and the people generally acknowledged the prophetic character 
of Isaias in religious matters, and in matters connected with the 
future Redeemer, but did not acknowledge the divine character of 
his political mission to Achaz. Since he, therefore, did not find 
faith in the latter among his contemporaries, he confirmed his divine 
mission by a Messianic prophecy. It is clear that such a sign needed 
not to be seen or verified by experience in order to have its full effect 
with those whom the prophet addressed , still, there are authors who 
refer us to the experience which the prophet's hearers were to have 
in limbo of the prophecy's fulfilment (Jo. viii. 50), 

b. Drach follows St. Chrysostom (Lettres d'un Rabbin converti, 3e. 
lettre, pp. 30, 31) and Theodoret in explaining the sign as one that 
necessarily implies the thing signified. The two hostile kings, they 
say, were about to exterminate the house of David (Is. vii. G), in order 
to make Tabeel king instead of Achaz. The prophet comes with the 
assurance that the enemies will so poorly succeed in their attempt 
that the house of David will even after seven hundred years give 
birth to the promised Messias. But it may be observed; a. that the 
two hostile kings did not necessarily wish to exterminate the whole 
house of David in order to accomplish their design; /i. that the sal 
vation of the house of David does not necessarily imply Achaz' de 
Iiverance from Ins two enemies at the juncture for which the prophet 
predicted it ; y. according to this explanation the prophet would 
have had to foretell in clear language the Messias' descent from 
David's royal house. Though this may be gathered from Is. ix. and 
xi., it is not clearly stated in Is. vii. 

c. A third answer to the difficulty has been offered by Hengsten- 
berg. According to this author, with whom Corluy appears to agree 
(Spicil. i. p. 409), the prophet's argument is a fortiori, so that we may 
propose it in this manner ; God will give to the house of David the 
very Emmanuel, the son of the virgin ; therefore, he will not refuse 
it what is much less — liberation from its present enemies. A similar 
manner of reasoning we find in Rom. viii. 32 ; in point of fact, the 
prophet's inference was truly logical : the future Messias was the 
source of all blessings for the whole human race, and therefore we 
find that both Isaias and Ezechiel console the people with similar 
reasonings under the most trying circumstances. But on the other 
hand, this explanation by far exceeds the obvious meaning of the 
passage, and should not be accepted without necessity. The first 
answer seems to be, after all, the most satisfactory. 

The second difficulty finds a contradiction between the context of 
the prediction and its Messianic interpretation, because according to 
the latter the virgin's son must be born after seven centuries, while 
according to the former the virgin's son must be born in the imme- 
diate future. There is no need of repeating here the divers explana 
tionsof this difficulty which deny the Messianic character of the pre- 
diction, since they have been duly considered in the preceding para- 
graphs. We shall limit ourselves to a few explanations that may be 
admitted by Catholic theologians : 

a. Rich. Simon, B. Lainy, Huetius, Moldenhauer, Tirinus, etc , 


not tempt the Lord." And he said : " Hear ye therefore, house 

distinguish here, as in other prophecies, between the literal and the 
typical sense of the prediction In the literal sense, Emmanuel is 
Isaias' son who was called Mahershalal-chashbaz (Is. viii. 3); the vir- 
gin is the prophetess whom Isaias had married when she was a vir- 
gin (Is. viii. 3). This explanation is based on the following reasons : 
a. Almost immediately after the prediction of the boy's conception 
and birth, the prophet describes the conception and birth of Maher- 
Shalal, before whose attaining the years of discretion the land was 
freed from its two oppressors, as Isaias has foretold about Emmanuel 
(Is. viii. 1-3). ft. In Is. viii. 18 the prophet explicitly appeals to 
his two sons, whom God had given him as a sign for Israel, y. The 
fact that Isaias' son of whom he speaks viii. 1-3 is not called Emman- 
uel does not contradict the explanation, since Emmanuel signified 
rather the present help of God than the actual name of the child to 
be born ; this must occasion so much the less difficulty, since not 
even Jesus received actually all the names that had been given him in 
Is. ix. 6. According to this view the words " he shall eat butter and 
honey " mean only that Emmanuel will be nourished with the food 
usually given to children, until he will know how to refuse the evil 
and to choose the good. 8. In accordance with the same view Em- 
manuel typically signifies the Massias, as the virgin mother is a type 
of the Blessed Virgin, conceiving and giving birth to her son without 
detriment to her virginity. The liberation of Judea is the type of 
the Messianic salvation from the yoke of sin and satan. 

Still, there are various considerations apt to make us dissatisfied 
with this explanation, a. In the first place, the type must properly 
represent its antitype, in that wherein it is a type. Now, a married 
woman, conceiving in the ordinary, natural manner, does not prop- 
erly represent a virginal conception and a virginal motherhood. 
Nevertheless, St. Matthew testifies that Isaias' prophecy was fulfilled 
precisely in the virginal conception of Jesus Christ. Consequently, 
the prophetic passage cannot literally apply to a married woman, such 
as the wife of Isaias was. Nor can it be said that St. Matthew had 
no intention of insisting in his gospel on the virginal conception of 
Jesus, but that he merely insists on his being conceived of the Holy 
Ghost, and that he thus argued from the conception of Emmanuel, 
who too was conceived through the special mediatorship of God. For 
this exception is against the whole context of the Evangelist. St. 
Matthew tells us how the angel solved St. Joseph's doubt concerning 
the mysterious pregnancy of the Blessed Virgin. The revelation of 
her virginal conception alone could fully allay St. Joseph's anxiety 
regarding this matter. Besides all this, the Fathers insist repeatedly 
that Isaias' prophecy has been fulfilled by the virginal conception of 
the Son of God. 

(3. Then, again, the son of Isaias by the prophetess cannot be the 
Emmanuel mentioned in Isaias vii. For it is highly improbable that 
one and the same child should have received, at the express wish of 
God, two entirely different symbolical names. Nor can the proph- 
etess be the virgin mentioned in the prophecy ; for the view that 
Isaias married after the present prophecy a virgin with whom he 


of David : Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that 

had intercourse rests on nothing but a mere conjecture, which in 
itself is most improbable. And if Emmanuel's mother was identical 
with Maher-Shalal's mother, why should not Isaias have said : " Be- 
hold, the prophetess shall conceive . . . " ? or what could have pre- 
vented his saying : " and I went to the virgin . . ." ? Besides, 
there seems to be no point of resemblance between Maher-Shalal, the 
son of Isaias, and Emmanuel, born of the root of Jesse, inheriting 
the throne of David forever. Nor can Calmet maintain that Jesus' 
not being called Emmanuel favors his manner of interpretation. 
For Jesus- does not on that account become equal to the son of Isaias. 
Emmanuel, applied to the Messias, shows what the Messias is, while 
the same name applied to the son of the prophet only indicates the 
symbolical meaning of the child. 

b. Drach (1. c.) and Marani (De divinitate Christi, p. 36) have 
therefore endeavored to solve the difficulty in a manner different 
from Calmet's answer. According to them the 15th verse alone is 
Messianic, while the boy of whom there is question in the following 
verse is Shear-Jasub, the son of the prophet. These authors admit 
that the prophet, after announcing the virginal conception and birth 
of Emmanuel, after predicting his eating butter and honey in order 
to show that he is a man like ourselves, suddenly changed his atti- 
tude, and pointing with his hand to Shear-Jasub uttered the predic- 
tion : Before that boy shall attain to the years of discretion, the land 
whose two kings thou fearest shall be vacated by its inhabitants. 

They urge a number of reasons for their interpretation, which 
are answered without much difficulty : a. Unless this explana- 
tion is admitted, there is no reason why Isaias should have been 
commanded to take Shear-Jasub with him to Achaz. But the very 
name of the boy was a sufficient reason for this command, since the 
name of both father and son served as a symbolic prophecy to the 
unhappy king. ft. As to the assertion that the prophet should have 
used the word " child" and not "boy," had he referred in the 16th 
verse to the Emmanuel, it can claim only an apparent probability. 
Its fallacy becomes clear as soon as one reflects that Emmanuel at the 
age at which the prophet refers to him is no more a child, y. The 
circumstance that Shear-Jasub too had been given to the prophet 
for a sign serves only to confirm what we said above ; the child's 
mere presence was a sign to the king. 5. The last reason urged by 
these authors in favor of their explanation only shows the weakness of 
their position. For though prophets may and do make sudden tran- 
sitions from subject to subject, still this peculiarity of theirs is lim- 
ited to type and antitype. And even when they treat of matters so 
intimately related to each other as type and antitype are, the context 
commonly shows, at least, signs of the transition. In the present 
passage of Isaias there is not only no sign of such a transition, but 
there is not even question of connected subjects ; for it would be 
difficult to prove that Shear-Jasub is a type of Emmanuel, e. Besides 
all this, the connection of the 16th verse with what precedes 
and follows is so close that it hardly admits such a sudden 
transition from Emmanuel to Shear-Jasub. In fact the 16th verse 


you are grievous to my God also ? Therefore the Lord himself 

begins with the causal particle "ki"^); so that it must contain 
the reason of the preceding statement. The language used by the 
prophet forbids the belief that he pointed out the boy of whom he 
spoke ; for had he done so, he should have said : " hanna'ar hazzeh," 
and not merely " hanna'ar." Finally, in the 22d verse it appears 
that Emmanuel himself is in some way supposed to be present in the 
desolated territory, and to be among those who will have to eat butter 
and honey after the destruction of Achaz' kingdom. The suggested 
explanation would therefore leave the difficulty unanswered. 

c. Vitringa (Comment, in Is. in h. 1.; Observat. sacra?, 1. v.) and 
Patrizi have suggested another solution of the difficulty. According 
to them there is no connection between vv. 15 and 22 ; the former 
tells us that Emmanuel will indeed eat butter and honey as a sign of 
his true humanity, but that his years of discretion constitute only an 
ideal term before which the predicted liberation will take place, since 
the terminus from which the years must be reckoned is not the real 
but the ideal birth of Emmanuel, i.e., the moment at which the 
prophecy is uttered. It is true that the prophet clearly distinguishes 
the stated two periods both in the life of Achaz and in that of Em- 
manuel. The difficulty of the prophecy consists precisely in the 
prophet's referring the distance between the two terms in both cases 
to the same period of time, so that the term from which the time up 
to Achaz' delivery must be reckoned coincides with the conception 
and birth of Emmanuel, while the time of the actual delivery of 
Achaz precedes Emmanuel's age of discretion. Now this point is not 
sufficiently kept in view in the solution offered by the authors men- 
tioned before. Besides, their assumption that vv. 15 and 22 are not 
connected contradicts the testimony of the text itself. 

d Bossuet (Explication de la prophetie d'lsaie, vii. 14) proposes 
another solution of the question. According to him the prophet 
mingles type with antitype in the passage, or rather he mixes the 
part which refers literally to the Messias with that which refers to 
him only typically. Literally, the Messias is referred to only in the 
words. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his 
name shall be called Emmanuel." Everything else refers literally to 
Isaias' son Maher-Shalal, who is the type of the Messias. The transi- 
tion from antitype to type is evident from the divine attributes which 
are predicated of the former, and the human characteristics attributed 
to the latter. But there are certain considerations which render 
Bossuet's explanation very improbable, a. First, it is hard to find 
out any similitude between Maher-Shalal and Emmanuel in those 
precise points with regard to which the former must be the type of 
the latter. We need not repeat what we have said about the impos- 
sibility of the virginal conception and birth of Emmanuel being typ- 
ically represented by the conception and birth of Maher-Shalal. fi. 
Besides, it seems highly improbable that Isaias' son should be called 
by two different names in the same passage ; the one applying to him 
in his historical bearing, the other representing him in his typical 

e. Hengstenberg in his Christology, Knabenbauer in his Commen- 


shall give you a sign. * Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear 

tary on the present passage, and Corlny (Spicil. i. p. 418) prefer an- 
other solution of the difficulty, a. According to these authors, the 
prophet uses in the present passage the figure of vision ; he sees in 
his prophetic vision Emmanuel's conception and birth as happening 
there and then. The years of Achaz' delivery from his enemies are, 
therefore, rightly reckoned from the moment at which the prediction 
is uttered or from the birth of Emmanuel ; Emmanuel is rightly rep- 
resented as eating butter and honey with his afflicted fellow-citizens ; 
the delivery, finally, takes place before Emmanuel attains to the use 
of his reason, fi. Such a vivid description we meet in Is. ix. 6, where 
the prophet represents the Emmanuel as already born ; the manner of 
thus identifying the Messias with the actual condition of his people 
is perfectly legitimate, since all the salvation of Israel was derived 
from the merits of the Messias. y . As to the exception which may 
be urged against this explanation, that such a figure could not have 
been understood by Achaz and his contemporaries, it must be remem- 
bered that the Israelites w T ere by other prophecies, uttered about the 
same time and by the same prophet, clearly forewarned that the Mes- 
sianic salvation would come only after a very long space of time. In 
chapter xi., e.g., there is question of the root giving birth to the 
promised Redeemer, and in the same chapter (v. 12) the prophet dis- 
tinctly announces that Israel and Juda will have to suffer dispersion 
and national ruin before the period of the Messias. 

4 Behold a virgin. Explanations : 1. The virgin is no definite per- 
son at all : according to Duhm, mother and son are merely represent- 
ative ideas ; according to Keuss the virgin is "la feinme comme telle ;" 
according to Henry Hammond (1G53), pregnancy, birth, and maturity 
are in their primary sense only parabolical facts, subservient to the 
chronological measurement of time, while Lowth, Koppe, Gratz, I. 
D. Michaelis, Eichhorn, Paulus, Staehelin, Hensler, Amnion, etc., 
maintain that the prophet's words are merely conditional, meaning 
that if a virgin were to conceive now, and bring forth a child, he 
would attain the use of reason only after the land would be freed 
from its two powerful enemies. But all this contradicts the positive 
statement of the prophet, which admits no condition. It is also op- 
posed to Is. viii. 8, which demands that the virgin applies to a definite 

2. The house of David is the virgin, and her son is a future new 
Israel as it is represented in Is. liv. 4-7 (Hofmann, Ebrard, Kohler, 
Weir); or the congregation of the pious and of the God-fearing in Israel 
at the time of Achaz is the virgin who will bring about a future ref- 
ormation of the nation (Schultz), or the Church is the virgin who will 
bring forth a countless number of children to God and his Redeemer 
(Herveus ; the author proposes this only as a secondary and mystical 
meaning of the prophecy, after he has explained it literally of the 
Messias). But not to mention other inconveniences, this explanation 
is opposed to Is. viii. 8, 10 ; ix. 6, and also to the common figurative 
manner of the prophet's address to the people, which he never calls 
simply " virgin." 

3. The prophet must, therefore, speak of a definite physical person 


a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat 

in the present passage. Some of the ancient Jewish commentators 
who are mentioned by the Fathers (Justin, cont. Try ph. nn. 66, 68, 
71, 77; Cyr. , Proc, Jerome) understood the word "virgin" as ap- 
plying to Achaz' wife, the mother of Ezechias, whom they identified 
with Emmanuel. This view is clearly refuted by Driver (Isaias, p. 
40). According to IV. Kings xvi. 2, Achaz on ascending the throne 
was twenty years old, and according to IV. Kings xviii. 2, Ezechias 
was twenty-five years old on his ascending the throne. Now, accord- 
ing to III. Kings xvi. 2, Achaz reigned sixteen years, and the present 
prophecy was uttered in the beginning of his reign. Ezechias was, 
therefore, nine years old at the time when Isaias uttered the prophecy. 
If it be said that according to this calculation Achaz died at the age 
of thirty-six, and that he therefore was only eleven years older than 
Ezechias, who ascended the throne at the age of twenty-five, we 
answer that according to the LXX. and the Pesh., Achaz was twenty- 
five on ascending the throne, so that he died at the age of forty-one, 
and became father of Ezechias at the age of sixteen. But this does 
not affect the fact that Ezechias was several years old when Isaias 
announced the divine sign to the godless Achaz. 

4. Some of the later Jewish commentators, as Abarbanel and Kim- 
chi, are of opinion that the virgin refers to another wife of Achaz, 
not to the mother of Ezechias, and that Emmanuel is a son of Achaz 
who is unknown in history. But since this view is gratuitously as- 
serted, it may be denied without an express statement of the reasons 
for the denial. Besides, it is extremely improbable that a common 
child, who was to have no special natural or supernatural preroga- 
tives, should be the subject of Is. viii. 8, 10 ; ix. 6, etc. 

5. Another class of authors holds that the virgin of the prophecy is 
the wife of Isaias, either the mother of Shear-Jasub, or a younger 
wife, newly married to the prophet, who became the mother of 
Maher-Shalal. The latter is, according to this view, the Emmanuel 
of the prophecy (Aben-Ezra, Jarchi, Faustus Socinus, Crell, Grotius, 
von Wolzogen, Faber, Pfliischke, Gesenius, Hitzig, Hendewerk, 
Knobel, Maurer, Olshausen, Diestel, etc.). It may be noted that cer- 
tain Catholic authors have given assent to this opinion, applying, 
however, only the literal sense of virgin and Emmanuel to the 
prophet's wife and son, while they understand both in their typical 
meaning of the Messias and his virgin mother (cf. St. Jerome's 
opinion about those who adhere to this view), a. But how can 
we conceive Isaias addressing his own son as the Lord of the land of 
Juda, and how can he represent his son as the cause of Israel's liber- 
ation from its enemies (Is. viii. 8, 10).? (5. Again, the hypothesis 
that the prophecy refers to a wife of Isaias recently married to him 
is nothing but a makeshift, resting on no single positive argument, 
while the assumption that Isaias indicated by " virgin " the mother 
of Shear-Jasub contradicts the very name given to her. For what- 
ever meaning may be assigned to the Hebrew word " f almah," it can 
surely not be applied to a married woman who has had children. 

6. Castalio, Isenbiehl (formerly), Bauer, Cube, Steudel,Umbreit (for- 
merly), and H. Schultz maintain that the prophet addressed his words 


butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to 

to a virgin who happened to be present at the time of the prophecy. 
Pointing to her, Isaias predicted that she should conceive and bear a 
son, and that the country should be freed from its enemies before 
her son would reach the age of discretion, a. It has already been 
shown that the sign thus offered can in no way satisfy the context of 
the prophecy, ft. Not to mention that the authors who hold this 
view do not give any proof, they contradict what the prophet says 
concerning the Emmanuel in viii. 8, 10 ; for it is incredible that the 
lord of Judea and the liberator of his native country should have re- 
mained as unknown to history as is the virgin's son of whom Isaias is 
supposed to prophesy in the present passage. 

7. If this be true of the explanation according to which any immac- 
ulate virgin and her son are the subjects of the prophet's prediction, 
what are we to think of Niigelsbach's opinion, which contends that a 
sinful woman and a child born of sinful intercourse are the virgin 
and the Emmanuel of whom Isaias speaks? The virgin is a daughter 
of Achaz, who has conceived secretly, and whose sin is as yet un- 
known to her father. Isaias reveals her shame to her father, and thus 
offers him a divine sign of his supernatural mission and of God's 
faithfulness to his promises. The incongruity of this explanation is 
so clear that it needs no further refutation. 

8. Finally, the commonly received opinion of Catholics maintains 
that the "virgin " in Isaias' prophecy refers to the Blessed Virgin 
in its literal sense, and that Emmanuel refers in its literal meaning 
to Jesus Christ. The text of the prophecy, its context, and its tradi- 
tional interpretation render this explanation certain beyond dispute. 

a. The text of the passage : In the text we shall first consider the 
word "virgin," Heb. "'almah"; secondly, we shall say a word about 
the clause in which the word " virgin " occurs. 1. As to " 'almah," 
whatever etymological derivation we give for the word (Db^i cb~ 

b*l3», in any case it may signify a chaste virgin, so far as its deriva- 
tion is concerned. Now the Scriptural usage of the word determines 
that, in point of fact, "'almah" does mean "virgin." For it occurs 
only six times in the Old Testament outside of the present passage ; 
in Gen. xxiv. 43 it is applied to Pebecca, who is expressly called a 
virgin who bad not known man (Gen. xxiv. 16) ; Ex. ii. 8 applies 
'almah to the sister of Moses, who was only a little girl ; Ps. lxvii. 
(lxviii.) 2G reads "princes went before joined with singers, in the 
midst of young damsels playing on timbrels." Now we infer from 
Jer. xxxi. 4 ; Judges xi. 34 ; Ex. xv. 20 that the damsels employed in 
this office were commonly virgins. Cant. i. 3 uses the word of virgins 
who love their royal spouse where no meaning but that of pure virgins 
can be thought of. Cant. vi. 8 (Vugl. 7) has the passage: "There are 
three score queens, and four score concubines, and young maidens 
without number." Here again, it is clear that the young maidens 
indicated in the Hebrew text by the plural of 'almah must be pure 
virgins, since they are distinguished from queens on the one hand, 
and from concubines on the other. The sixth passage in which 
"'almah" occurs offers greater difficulties. It reads: " Three things 
are hard to me, and the fourth I am utterly ignorant of : the way 


choose the good. For before the child know to refuse the evil, 

of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock, the way of 
a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man in youth " (Prov. 
xxx. 18, 19). The word rendered "youth" reads in the Hebrew 
text " 'almah," so that we should read "the way of a man in a virgin." 
Only one Hebrew codex has the reading " 'almuth " that is required 
by the present English, Latin, Septuagint, and Syriac rendering 
"youth ;" all the other codices and old versions require the rendering 
" virgin." 

A number of explanations of this difficult passage have been offered, 
which we can only enumerate without fully investigating any one of 

a. The "virgin" spoken of is a prostitute, so that the whole pas- 
sage means : as there is no sign left of the eagle's way in the air, of 
the serpent's path on the rock, and of the ship's course in the waters 
of the sea, so there is no certain sign of a man's intercourse with a 
prostitute. 1. But in the first place, the subsequent pregnancy would 
serve as such a sign. 2. Again, this meaning does not agree with the 
verse which immediately follows the passage : " Such is also the way 
of an adulterous woman, who eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and 
saith: I have done no evil." For what imaginable "way" of the 
adulterous woman can thus be compared with the way of the eagle, 
the serpent, the ship, and the man V 

fi. A second explanation admits that " 'almah " in the passage may 
mean a "virgin" who is immaculate before her intercourse with man. 
This view supposes that man's way in the virgin is hidden because 
it cannot be discovered on the man himself. 1. But in the first place, 
this explanation is against the analogy of the preceding three un- 
known ways: they are called unknown, not because they cannot be 
detected on the eagle, or the ship, or the serpent,but because they can- 
not be discovered in the air, in the sea, and on the rock. In the same 
manner, then, must the fourth way be undiscoverable on the virgin. 
2. Besides, the same argument may be urged against this explanation 
which we urged against the first solution, and which was taken from 
the impossibility of finding an analogous "way" of the adulterous 

y. Others again have thought of explaining the passage in a meta- 
phorical sense ; the Wise Man says, according to this view: I do not 
know how the mighty eagle can sail through the thin air ; I do not 
know how the serpent without feet can glide over the solid rock; 1 
do not know how the bulky ship can be upheld in the liquid waters 
of the ocean ; I do not know how the libertine can be impelled by his 
impure passion to corrupt the immaculate virgin : and in the same 
manner the deceitful way of the adulterous woman is a mystery to 
me. It is clear that according to this explanation all the necessary 
conditions of both text and context are fully satisfied. 

o\ There is another explanation which seems more satisfactory to 
some scholars, because it does not appeal to a metaphorical meaning 
of the word " way." The 'almah is supposed to be a chaste virgin, — 
at least in the estimation of men, — and the writer insists on the fact 
that even in a virgin there is no certain sign of her intercourse with 


and to choose the good, the land which thou abhorrest shall be 

man. As, therefore, an adulterous woman may eat and wipe her 
mouth and say, " I have done no evil," so may a reputed virgin, even 
after her sin, be without any outward signs of her violated virginity 
(cf. Knab. p. 170). 

e. We hardly need to state all the other explanations that have 
been attempted by divers authors: Rohling, e.g., proffers the view 
that the writer merely warns virgins against illicit intercourse, since 
they alone have to bear the punishment and the shame, while 
their accomplices retain no trace of the sin ; Hengstenberg explains 
the "way" of man in the virgin as meaning- the curious man- 
ner in which a virgin often conceives a passion for a man without 
any assignable reasonable cause ; Lapide mentions the opinion of 
some that the writer addresses a warning to parents to keep their 
daughters well guarded from all attempts against their virginity, 
since there is no external sign to show them whether a fault has been 

It follows from these explanations that in order to satisfy both text 
and context of the difficult passage, "'almah " must signify a pure vir- 
gin — a virgin who is pure, at least, in the opinion of men. And com- 
bining this result with the result of our investigation of the other 
passages in which "'almah " occurs, we must conclude that the word 
commonly means a pure and undefiled virgin. 

This conclusion is confirmed by the LXX. version, in which 'almah is 
four times rendered veani, or maid (Ex. ii. 8 ; Ps. lxvii. (lxviii.) 26 ; 
Cant. i. 3 ; vi. 7), once reor//5 (Prov. xxx. 19), but in the present 
passage napftevoS, or virgin. There must, then, have been a special 
reason, be it tradition or the current explanation of the text, which 
induced those writers to adopt this version. It is not surprising that 
Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion relinquished the rendering 
7tctfj{}evo<s, because at their time the Christians already began to use 
the text in their controversial writings (cf. Iren. iii. 24 ; Justin, 
Try ph. 71). 

2. It must further be noted that almah in the Hebrew text has the 
definite article, and that it is followed by two participles, so that we 
must render literally: " Behold, the virgin is pregnant, and is bring- 
ing forth a son, and his name she shall call Emmanuel." If we then 
insist on the literal meaning of the prophecy, the virgin, though 
she is virgin, is pregnant and bringing forth her son, so that she is 
both virgin and mother. It appears from the following verb that the 
prophet intended his words to be explained in this literal sense; for 
he does not say "and she is calling his name Emmanuel," but he 
continues, "and she shall call his name." The prophecy in its lit- 
eral meaning has, therefore, not been verified in any one except in 
the Blessed Virgin, so that she alone is literally spoken of by Isaias. 
Prach (Pe l'liarmonie entre l'Eglise et la Synagogue, Paris, 1844, t. ii 
pp. 237 ff.) has shown that it is probably owing to Isaias' prophecy 
concerning the virgin-mother that virginity has been held in such 
high esteem among most nations of even pagan antiquity. 

b. The context of this passage too requires that it be applied to the 
Blessed Virgin in its literal sense. For, according to the context, the 


forsaken of the face of her two kings. The Lord shall bring upon 
thee and upon thy people, and upon the house of thy father, days 
that have not come since the time of the separation of Ephraim 
from Juda, with the king of the Assyrians." 


1. The prophet's prediction that the Messias will be 
conceived and born of a virgin who has not known man, 
that his name will be Emmanuel, and that he will be the 
Redeemer of his people, is for Christians certain from the 
text of St. Matthew. 

2. Against Rationalists the Messianic character of the 
prophecy may be proved from the connection of chapters 
vii., viii., ix., xi., and Mich. v. The unanimous Jewish tra- 
dition regarding Is. viii. 8 and Mich. v. 5, and the fact that 
St. Matthew used the prophecy against the Jews in a Mes- 
sianic sense without finding any contradiction on the part 
of his opponents, are as many confirmations of the first 
argument for the Messianic reference of Is. vii. 

The virginal conception and birth of the Emmanuel can 
be rendered probable to a Rationalist even from Isaias' 
prophecy: a. Because the LXX. rendered the word 
"almah" by "7rap6evo;$" b. because St. Matthew found 
no difficulty when he saw a fulfilment of this prophecy in 
Christ's virginal conception; c. because it has been the 
universal tradition among the nations that many of their 
divine heroes and many of their extraordinary men were 
born of virgin-mothers. 

3. As to the Jews, they could infer the Messianic char- 
acter of Isaias' prophecy by comparing it with other clearly 
Messianic predictions. From the latter they knew that 

virgin of whom the prophet speaks is the mother of Emmanuel. 
Now, Emmanuel must from the whole setting of the prediction be 
literally applied to Jesus Christ. Hence the virgin-mother too must 
be the Messias' mother in the literal meaning of the word. 

c. Nearly all the patristic testimonies to which we referred above, 
as applying Isaias' prophecy to the Messias, bear also witness to its 
literal Messianic application. 


the Messias would free the house of David from its enemies, 
though they might not believe him so far distant as he 
really proved to be. It is hardly probable that they should 
have understood from the words of the prophecy the vir- 
ginal conception and birth of the Messias, though they 
must have perceived that the Messias' mother would be a 
most extraordinary virgin, and perhaps even that she must 
be especially privileged in her conceiving and giving birth 
to the Messias. The Alexandrian translators seem to have 
had a further developed doctrine on the virginity of Em- 
manuel's mother. And we may reasonably suppose that 
about the time of Christ's birth the Messianic expectation 
had attained such a state of perfection that the Evange- 
list's doctrine was for the new converts nothing else than a 
clear exposition of what they had known implicitly and 

358 BI11T11 OF. THE ME8SIAS. 



Section I. The Voice in the Desert. 
Is. xl. 1-11. 


1. Connection of the Prophecy with the Prophetic 
Series of Isaias. — The prophecy belongs to the second 
part of Isaias* book, which begins with c. xl. and ends with 
c. lxvi. It may be called " the Book of Consolation," since 
the very opening words give ns the key-note of the whole 
second part. It consists of three divisions, each of which 
embraces nine cantos. The general subject of the single 
divisions is indicated in xl. 2, according to which chapters 
xl.-xlviii. evolve the idea, "her evil is come to an end;" 
chapters xlix.-lvii. inculcate the thought, "her iniquity is 
forgiven;" chapters lviii.-lxvi., finally, describe how "she 
hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her 
sins." The style of the whole second part is even and 
majestic, except in liii. and lvi. 9-lvii., where the sadness 
and the anger which the prophet represents affect his style 
and conform it to his subject-matter. 

The present prophecy belongs to the first of the three 
divisions, forming part of its Introduction; for the whole 
Introduction to the first division extends throughout the 
40th chapter. A careful reading shows that the Introduc- 
tion consists of two parts, one of which we may call the 
general introduction, contained in vv. 1—11; the other 
may be named the special introduction, extending from 


vv. 12-31. It is clear from this that the present prophecy 
coincdies with the general introduction. 

2. The Messianic Character of the Prophecy. — The 
liberty promised in the prophet's prediction is neither 
solely temporal nor solely spiritual. The solely Messianic 
reference of the prophecy is defended by Ephrem, Jerome, 
Cyril, Eusebins, Thomas, Osorio, Foreiro, Pinto, Sasbout, 
Lapide, Menochins, Gordon, Maldonatus. Tirinns also 
denies that the prediction in its literal sense refers to the 
liberation of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity; 
still he grants that it alludes to this fact. Mariana, Cal- 
met, Neteler, Rohling, Trochon, and Knabenbauer have 
thought it right to differ with the former authors; for 
they refer the literal sense of Is. xl. 1-11 to the liberation 
of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, while they 
apply it in its typical sense to the Messianic salvation and 
to St. John the Baptist. 

It is clear from the preceding and the subsequent chap- 
ters that the 40th chapter must literally refer to the Jewish 
liberation from the Babylonian captivity. For such an 
announcement is naturally expected after chapter xxxix., 
and in the subsequent chapters the same event is literally 
described as coming to pass through the instrumentality of 
Cyrus. At the same time it cannot be denied that the 
prediction has also a Messianic application: a. This is 
plain from the greatness of the promises in verse 5, " and 
the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh 
together shall see that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken." 
b. The same truth appears from the New Testament, in 
which the prediction of Isaias is applied to John the Bap- 
tist : " For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the 
prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert; pre- 
pare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths" 
(Matt. iii. 3). Similar testimonies are found in Mark i. 3, 
4; Luke iii. 4; John i. 23. c. We have seen that in its 
literal sense the prophecy refers to the Jewish deliverance 
from the Babylonian captivity. Now this event is com- 


monly represented in Sacred Scripture as a type of Mes- 
sianic salvation (cf. Os. ii. 15; Mich. ii. 12, 13; Jer. xxxi. 
21 f.; Ezech. xxxvi. 9; xxxvii. 11 ff.). Consequently, the 
prediction is Messianic from the very nature of its object. 
d. We might add to these arguments the weight of extrin- 
sic authority, but the names of the writers who regard the 
passage as Messianic, either in its literal or in its typical 
sense, have been given above. 

e. Rabbinic tradition too regards the prophetic passage 
as Messianic. The Midrash on Gen. 1. 21, sect. 100, has it: 
" If the word of Joseph had such a soothing effect upon 
the hearts of the tribes, how much greater will be the effect 
when the Holy One, blessed be he, will come to comfort 
Jerusalem, as it is said: Be comforted, be comforted, my 
people. . . ." (Is. xl. 1). The Midrash on Leviticus xli. (i. 
1, sect. 1) has a Messianic application of Is. xl. 5: "Rabbi 
Phinehas spoke, in the name of Rabbi Hoshaya, this para- 
ble: A king showed himself to the sou of his house in his 
true likeness; for in this world the Shechinah appears to 
individuals, but in the future the glory of the Lord will 
appear, as it is said : And the glory of the Lord shall be 
revealed. . . ." Yalkut on Ex. xxxii. 6 applies Is. xl. 10 
in a Messianic sense: "And on account of the sufferings 
which Israel suffered will the Holy One, blessed be he, 
give them a double reward in the days of the Messias, for 
it is said : Behold, the Lord God will come. . . ." 

3. The Topological Sense of the passage is so well 
known and so frequently used that we need not delay over 
its explanation (cf. Lap., Cyril, Gordon, Sanchez, etc.). 

Is. XL. 1-11. 

1 Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God. Speak 
ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come 

1 Be comforted. The whole passage may be divided into five 
parts: 1. In vv. 1, 2 the prophet describes the redemption in a neg- 
ative way ; 2. vv. 3, 4, 5 the first herald describes the redemption 
positively ; 3. vv. G-8 the second herald shows that no created 


to an end, her iniquity is forgiven, she hath received of the hand 
of the Lord double for all her sins. 

2 The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of 
the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. 

obstacle can frustrate the promised redemption ; 4. v. 9 the third 
herald supposes God's presence ; 5. vv. 10-11 the prophet takes up 
the strain of the third herald, describing the work of redemption 
more minutely. " Be comforted " contains the burden of the divine 
commission intrusted to the prophet. This commission is not given 
once, and then left to the good-will of the prophet, but God gives it 
continuously ; hence " saith the Lord." These good tidings are to 
be spoken to the heart of Jerusalem, i.e., according to the scriptural 
manner of expression, to the sorrowing Jerusalem. Finally, three 
reasons are assigned why the sorrowing city should be consoled : 1. 
Her evil, or rather her warfare, is come to an end (cf. Knabenb., in 
Is. i. 62) ; 2. her iniquity is forgiven, or better, her ransom has been 
paid (cf. ibid. 61, 62) ; 3. she hath received of the hand of the Lord 
double for all her sins. This sentence has been taken in a double 
sense : a. Jerusalem has suffered enough to satisfy the divine justice, 
so that God's compassion now regards what his justice was forced to 
inflict on Jerusalem as superabundant. The turning-point from 
anger to love has come, and the latter will break forth the more in- 
tensely the longer it has been pent up (Delitzsch, ii. 134 f.). Some 
see in the double punishment the double destruction of Jerusalem 
(Jerome, Euseb., Maid., Est.), b. Other interpreters, however, apply 
the "double" not to the punishment of Jerusalem, which even God's 
justice could not inflict, but they understand it of double grace which 
the city is to receive (Pinto, Vatable, Mariana, Sa, Clarius, Sasbout,. 
Lapide, Gesenius, Hitzig, Ewald, Halm, Knabenbauer, Umbreit, 
Stier, etc.). The exception of Delitzsch, that the tense "she hath 
received " must be taken of past time, since the parallel tenses "is 
come to an end " and " is forgiven " are taken of the past, is not suffi- 
cient to render this view improbable. For the prophet has seen Jeru- 
salem's future before him, and he here describes it as he has seen 
it, not determining whether what he announces is still to come or has 
taken place already. 

2 The voice of one crying. Whether we follow our English and 
Latin versions, or render with Sanchez, Malvenda, Maldonatus (in 
Matt. iii. 3) : "The voice of one crying : In the desert prepare . . . ," 
in either case the words allude to the oriental custom of preparing 
the road before an important person who journeys through the coun- 
try. A herald is sent to inform the people of this duty. The prophet 
therefore shows that the Lord himself will be the guide of Israel on 
its return from Babylon, even as he had led the people on the way 
through the desert when it left the Egyptian captivity. As to the 
real nature of the road, cf. Is. xli. 18 ; xliii. 20 ; lii. 11 ; lv. 12 ; lvii.| 
14 ; lxii. 10. The nature of the preparation is minutely described in 
the following words, which contain at the same time the end of the 
work, " the glory of the Lord shall be revealed." But since in the 
following chapters a twofold redemption is described, that through 


Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall 
be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough 
ways plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all 
flesh together shall see that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken. 

3 The voice of one saying : Cry. And I said: What shall I cry ? 
All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the 
field. The grass is withered and the flower is fallen, because the 
spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. Indeed the people is grass: 
the grass is withered, and the flower is fallen, but the word of our 
Lord endureth for ever. 

4 Get thee up upon a high mountain, thou that bringest good 
tidings to Sion, lift up thy voice with strength, thou that bringest 
good tidings to Jerusalem; lift it up, fear not. Say to the cities 
of Juda : Behold your God. 

6 Behold, the Lord God shall come with strength, and his arm 

Cyrus and that through the Messias, so the preparation here enjoined 
must bo understood as referring to both. It is clear, therefore, that 
what literally applies to the desert-roads refers also to the prepara- 
tion of our hearts for the Messianic blessings. The call itself" sounds 
like the long-drawn trumpet-blast of a herald (cf. xvi. 1). 

3 The voice of one saying : Cry. According to the LXX. and St. 
Jerome, we continue : " And I said ;" according to the Hebrew text, 
the Svriac and the Chaldee versions, the text continues : •' And he 
said.'' After the preceding promise of Israel's exaltation the prophet 
might doubt as to the possibility of such a change in the nation's 
condition. God therefore sends his second herald to announce three 
points : a. all flesh and all its glory is perishable as the flower of 
the field ; b. all flesh and all its glory shall really perish ; c. but the 
word of the Lord shall stand for ever. The outward manifestation 
of God's breath seems to be the wind, and in our case the sirocco, at 
whose blowing in May the spring flora acquires at once an autumn 

4 Get thee up. It is disputed whether Sion is the third herald, or 
whether Sion is the one to whom the third herald announces the 
glad tidings. Sion is considered the herald of glad tidings by 
Osorio, Vatable, Sasbout, Maldonatus, Mariana, Foreiro, Holding, 
Trochon, Orelli, Delitzsch, and other authors, while Sanchez, Calmet, 
Schegg, Gesenius, Knobel, Hahn, Knabenbauer, and others agree 
with the LXX. and the Targumim, rendering the clause : " preacher 
of salvation to Jerusalem." According to the former view, Jerusa- 
lem is to ascend a high mountain after God has returned to the city, 
and announce to Sion's daughters, i.e., to the surrounding cities, the 
gladsome news of the divine deliverance. According to the latter 
interpretation Sion is looked upon as in the greatest grief, and the 
herald must console Sion with the glad tidings of God's return to the 
temple. The herald is expressed by the feminine gender, in order to 
signify that it applies to all who may come to Jerusalem. 

6 Behold, the Lord God shall come with strength. In the following 


shall rule; behold, his reward is with him, and his work is before 
him. • He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather 
together the lambs with his arm, and shall take them up in his 
bosom, and he himself shall carry them that are with young. 


The Jews could suspect the Messianic character of this 
prophecy, because they seem to have known the typical 
character of their return from Babylon. The general 
description of the Messianic preparation is more minutely 
described in the prophecy of Malachias. 

Section II. Elias the Prophet. 

Mai. iv. 5, 6. 


1. Connection of the Prophecy with its Context. 

The people complain that it is vain to serve God, that he 
makes no distinction between the evil and the good. The 
prophet replies that the day is coming when God will own 
Jhose that are his and silence the murmurers (iii. 13-18). 
The workers of wickedness will be punished, and the just 
will triumph over their fall (iv. 1-3). The prophecy con- 
cludes with an exhortation to obey the requirements of the 
Mosaic law, and with a promise of a coming of Elias the 
prophet to move the people to repentance for the day of 
the Lord, and thus to avert or mitigate the curse that 
otherwise must fall upon the earth (iv. 4-G). 

2. Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— All grant 
that the promised Elias will prepare the day of the Lord. 

verses the prophet takes up the tidings of the third herald, and es- 
pecially the words: "Behold your God." God will bring his own 
work to a successful issue ; lie will reward the deserving and chastise 
the wicked. This twofold nature of God's work is described repeat- 
edly in Isaias ; cf. viii. 21; ix. 1; xxiv. 0, 10; xxx. 23, 27, etc. 
Finally, Isaias returns to a more detailed description of God's mercy, 
representing him as a faithful and loving shepherd who cares for 
every want of his flock. 


But it is disputed which day of the Lord is meant in the 
present passage. A number of authors maintain that the 
first advent of the Messias is called the day of the Lord 
in this prophecy. The reasons for this opinion may be 
reduced to the following: a. The angel foretells of John the 
Baptist: "And he shall go before him in the spirit and 
power of Elias . . ." (Luke i. 17). Now John the Baptist 
went before the Lord at his first advent. Besides, when 
Jesus spoke to the assembled multitude about John the 
Baptist, he said expressly: "And if ye will receive it, he is 
Elias that is to come " (Matt. xi. 14). Again, after his 
transfiguration Jesus testified before his disciples: "But 
I say to you that Elias is already come, and they knew 
him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they had a 
mind " (Matt. xvii. 12). In all these instances, therefore, 
the arrival of Elias is identified with the coming of John 
the Baptist before the first advent of the Lord. b. Another 
reason for applying Mai. iv. 4-G to the first coming of the 
Lord rests on the identity of Elias, promised in this proph- 
ecy, with the angel who is announced in Mai. iii. 1 as 
coming to prepare the way before the face of the Lord 
(Reinke, Keil, Pressel, Trochon). Now the latter is clearly 
predicted as coming before the first advent of the Messias. 
c. Finally, this opinion is not destitute of external authority. 
For though among the patristic writers St. Ephrem seems 
to be the only one to defend it, it has found a number of 
adherents among the later commentators — Barhebraeus, 
Burgensis, Arias, Clarius (does not apply it to the first 
advent exclusively), Braun, Bergier, Jahn, Scholz, Acker- 
mann, Dereser, Reinke, and a number of Protestant writers, 
such as Keil, Pressel, etc. d. The fifth verse is in Jewish 
tradition clearly applied to the forerunner of the Messias, 
between whose first and second advent no distinction is 
made in the doctrine of the Synagogue (cf. Pirqe de Rabbi 
Eliezer, c. 40; Debbarim Rab. 3; Midrash on Cant. i. 1; 
Talmud and Yalkut, a number of passages). 


3. The Second Advent.— Other commentators maintain 
that the prophecy refers only to the second advent of 
Christ, so that the forerunner promised in it will prepare 
the world for the Lord's second coming. The reasons 
for this explanation of the passage may be reduced to the 

a. The LXX. render Mai. iv. 5 : " Behold, I will send 
you Elias the Thesbite . . ." Now a forerunner who 
would come only in the spirit of Elias could not be called 
"the Thesbite;" hence the LXX. suppose that Elias will 
return in person. The same Jewish belief is expressed in 
Matt. xvii. 10 : " Why then do the scribes say that Elias 
must come first ? " And, far from contradicting this tra- 
dition, Jesus himself rather confirms it, saying: "Elias 
indeed shall come, and restore all things " (Matt. xvii. 11). 
The same incident is related in Mark ix. 10 ff. Ecclus. 
xlviii. 10 (cf. ibid. 1-9) testifies to the existence of the 
same tradition among the Jews, according to which Elias 
in person is "to appease the wrath of the Lord, to reconcile 
the heart of the father to the son, and to restore the tribes 
of Jacob." It is equally evident that Elias in person did 
not do all this before the first advent of the Messias. 
Hence he must do so before the second coming of Christ. 

b. Another reason for applying the prophecy to the second 
advent of the Messias is based on the words of the text 
itself. Elias the prophet is to come "before the coming of 
the great and dreadful day of the Lord." But the great 
and dreadful day of the Lord is the time of his second 
coming, as is clear from Is. ii. 12; xiii. 6; xxxiv. 8; Lam. 
i. 12; ii. 22; Joel i. 15; ii. 1; Am. v. 18; Abd. 15; Soph. 
i. 7, 14; Zach. xiv. 1. According to Joel ii. 31 this day 
is clearly placed after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 

c. The third reason for applying the prophecy of Mai. iv. 
4-G to the Messias' second coming is taken from the differ- 
ence between the precursor promised in this passage and 
the forerunner who is promised in iii. 1 IT.; this latter is 
an angel, who is to prepare the way of the Lord, and whom 


the Lord will presently follow, coming to his temple and 
restoring the sanctity of worship and sacrifice; the former, 
on the contrary, is a prophet, Elias the Thesbite in per- 
son, who will bring about the reformation of the people, 
lest the Lord may on his coming strike the earth with 

d. The patristic testimonies in favor of this explanation 
are most numerous : Tertullian, Hilary, Origen, Victorinns, 
Justin, Hippolytus, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, 
Ohrysostom, Gregory the Great, John Damascene, Cyril, 
Theodoret, etc. (cf. Knabenb., in Prophet. Min. ii. p. 490). 
Among the commentators who adhere to this opinion may 
be named Ribera, Sanchez, Lapide, Sa, Knabenb., etc. 
Pusey endeavors to interpret the prophecy as applying to 
both advents of the Messias (Minor Prophets, ii. 499; New 
York, 1889). As to the testimony of theologians regarding 
the meaning of the prophecy, it is too clear to admit of 
explanation. Bellarmine calls the opinion that Enoch and 
Elias in person will return "most true," and the opposite 
opinion he calls heretical or approaching heresy (Rom. 
Pont. iii. G; de Controv., i. p. 719, Paris, 1608). Suarez 
maintains that the opinion concerning Elias' coming in 
person is either of faith or is very nearly so (in iii. St. 
Thorn, q. 59, disp. 55, sect. 2; Moguntiae 1G04, ii. p. G54). 
A long list of the writers and interpreters who have defended 
the explanation of Mai. iv. 4-G according to which Elias is 
to come in person, may be found in Natal. Alexander, Hist. 
Vet. Testam., in mundi quintam astatem dissert. G (ed. 
Paris, 1730, ii. p. 185). 

Mal. iv. 5, G. 

1 Remember the law of Moses my servant, which T com- 
manded him in Horeb for all Israel, the precepts and judgments. 

1 Remember the law of Moses. The people had murmured, saying: 
" He laboreth in vain that serveth God . . ." (iii. 14). The prophet, 
in concluding his rebuke, insists agaio on the importance of keeping 

sill the law of Moses, both its ceremonial precepts and its special 


Behold, I will send you Elms the prophet, before the coming 
of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. "And he shall turn 
the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the 
children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with 


Though the prophecy of Mai. iv. 4-6 refers properly to 
the second coming of Christ, still the Jews admitted its 
Messianic character. At the same time, the Synagogue did 
not distinguish between the first and second coming of the 
Messias. Hence they expected, in general, the coming of 
Elias before that of the Messias. The disciples in Matt. 
xvii. 10 follow the scribes in this confusion of the two 
comings of the Messias. Jesus in his answer distinguishes 
between the two: a. Elias, indeed, shall come and restore 
all things before the second coming of Christ, b. But 
Elias is already come, not in person, but in type, before 
Christ's first coming; and thus even the traditional expec- 
tation of the Jewish nation with regard to the preparation 
of the Messias' arrival has been fully accomplished, so that 
they are without excuse. 

ordinances concerning right and justice. For it is not Moses, that 
gave this law, but God himself is its author (Gal. iii. 19; Ileb. ii. 2), 
who wishes the law to train the people for the Messianic dispensa- 
tion even as a schoolmaster trains his pupil. And though the Jews 
as a nation have been unfaithful to this their divinely appointed 
calling (Rom.x. 19-21), the gifts of God are without repentance, and 
the Jews too will finally be brought to the Messianic belief Rom. 
xi. 12, 15, 25). 

2 He shall turn the heart of the fathers. Explanations : 1. He shall 
convert the hearts of the fathers together with the children, and the 
hearts of the children together with the fathers (Cyril, Mariana, Pres- 
sel, Kimchi, Aben-Ezra). The Hebrew preposition rendered by ''to " 
in our English text may be rendered "with" (cf. Ex. xxxv. 22). 
2. lie shall restore peace in the families and in the nation at large, 
reconciling the parents with their children, and the elders with their 
younger brethren (Rosenrniiller, Schegg). 3. He shall bring a univer- 
sal state of peace and harmony (Loch). 4. He shall bring about a 
reconciliation between the Jews and the Gentiles, the former of whom 
are called fathers by tin : prophet; the latter are named children (Theo- 
doret, Calmet). 5. He shall bring about that Jews and Christians 
alike, who are now at variance with each other, will adhere to the 
same faith in Christ (Jerome; cf. Lapide, Reinke). 




ADORATION OF THE MAGI. Ps. lxxi. 1-17. 


1. Structure of the Psalm.— The psalm consists of 
ten stanzas, each being composed of four verses, containing 
seven syllables each. It may be divided into three parts: 
a% vv# i_4 ar e a prayer for the new king; b. vv. 5-11 de- 
scribe, or rather predict, the universality and the eternity 
of the new king's power; c. vv. 12-17 tell us with what 
justice and kindness he will rule. d. The verses which 
follow are a mere closing word to the second book of 

2. Author of the Psalm.— a. Kimchi and other Hebrews 
have been of opinion that the psalm was written by David, 
when, a short time before his death, he designated his son 
Solomon as his successor in his kingdom. Hensler in 
" Bemerkungen iiber Stellen in den Psalmen nnd in der 
Genesis" has successfully refuted this opinion. l>. The 
psalm must have been written by Solomon, a. First of 
all, the title of the psalm shows this. For though the 
Vulgate renders the title, " A Psalm on Solomon/' it must 
be noted that in the Hebrew text we have the same prepo- 



sition which in most instances is rendered in the Vulgate 
as indicating the authorship. Tims we repeatedly read, 
"A Psalm of David," which should have been rendered 
according to the Vulgate's present reading, "A Psalm on 
David." fi. What is clear from the inscription of the 
psalm is confirmed by its style, which resembles the style 
of the Book of Proverbs, and necessitates that the author- 
ship of the psalm be ascribed to the writer of Proverbs. 
y. Finally, the allusions to distant lands, to an extended 
and peaceful dominion, and a certain air of calm and cheer- 
ful reflection, are characteristic of the son of David. 

3. Subject of the Psalm.— a. The psalm consists of 
prayers or wishes, formed or expressed on the accession of 
some particular Hebrew king, probably of Solomon (Rosen- 
miiller formerly). I. Part of the psalm refers literally to 
Solomon and typically to Christ; part refers literally to the 
Messias (Muis, Bossuet, Patrizi, etc.). Both these views 
are based principally on a false rendering of the psalm's title. 
c. Here as in psalm xlv. the reigning king (Solomon, Ozias, 
Josias) is idealized (Cheyne). Or the psalm presents 
Israel's aspirations for the ideal Messianic king, typified 
by, but distinct from, the reigning monarch (Briggs, "Mes- 
sianic Prophecy/' pp. 137,138). d. The psalm is wholly 
Messianic in its literal sense. This view rests on the fol- 
lowing arguments: 1. Justin, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Ter- 
tullian, Theodoret, and Augustine have explained the psalm 
in this manner. Their testimonies may be found collected 
in Reinke's work on the Psalms, and the references are indi- 
cated in Kilber's Analysis Biblica, ii. GO. 2. No earthly 
king could have fulfilled the predictions, and justified the 
king's description as given in the psalm; to think that any 
king could have thus spoken of his own term of office is 
to ascribe to him a boundless vanity and an unbearable 
pride. It must then be inferred that the psalmist's spirit 
was under the influence of a power which prompted these 
utterances in which the Church in all ages has found 
announcements of the Messias. 


fully agrees with the view of the Synagogue. We may be 
allowed to quote the most remarkable of the pertinent 
Jewish testimonies : 

Verse l. The Targum renders: "0 God, give the decrees 
of thy judgments to the king Messias, and thy righteousness 
to the son of David the king." The Midrash refers this to 
the Messias with reference to Is. xi. 1, 5 (fol. 27, col. 4). 

Verse 10. The Midrash on Genesis, or Bereshith Rabba, 
sect. 78, has the following passage: "One of the common 
people said to the Rabbi Hoshaya: In case I tell you a nice 
thing, would you repeat it in the college in my name ? What 
is it ? All the presents which our father Jacob gave to Esau 
the nations of the world will once return to the king Mes- 
sias, as it is said: 'The kings of Tharsis. . . / It is not 
written 'they shall bring/ but 'they shall return/ Truly, 
said Rabbi II oshaya, thou hast said a nice thing, and I will 
publicly repeat it in thy name." 

Verse 16. "And there shall be a firmament on the earth, 
on the tops of mountains " (a handful of corn in the earth 
upon the top of the mountains). Tanchuma (fol. 79, col. 
4) asks: "When will this be?" "In the days of the Mes- 
sias" is the answer. The Midrash on Eccles. i. 9 has the 
following comment: "As the first Redeemer fed the people 
with manna (cf. Ex. xvi. 4), so too will the last Redeemer 
send manna down, as it is said: and there shall be. . . ." 
The Talmudic tract Shabbath (fol. 30, col. 2) has the fol- 
lowing reference to Ps. lxxi. 1G: "Rabban Gamaliel was 
sitting one day explaining to his disciples that in the future 
(i.e., in Messianic times) a woman will give birth every day, 
for it is said : ' She travails and brings forth at once ' (Jer. 
xxxi. 8). A certain disciple sneeringly said : 'There is no 
new thing under the sun' (Eccles. i. 9). 'Come/ said the 
Rabbi, ' and I will show thee something similar even in this 
world;' and he showed him a hen which laid eggs every 
day Again, Gamaliel sat and expounded that in the future 
world the trees will bear fruit every day, for it is said : 


'And it shall bring forth boughs and bear fruit' (Ezech. 
xvii. 23). As the boughs grow every day, so will the fruit 
grow every day. The same disciple sneeringly said : ' There 
is nothing new under the sun/ ' Come/ said the Rabbi, 
' and I will show thee something like it even now, in this 
age.' And he directed him to a caper-berry, which bears 
fruit and leaves at all seasons of the year. Again, as Ga- 
maliel was sitting and expounding to his disciples that the 
land of Israel in the Messianic age would produce cakes 
and clothes of the finest wool, for it is said: 'There shall 
be a handful of corn in the earth, . . .' that disciple again 
sneeringly remarked: 'There is nothing new under the 

Verse 17. " Let his name be blessed for evermore, his name 
continueth before the sun." The Talmud very often ap- 
plies this verse to the Messias. In Pesachim (fol. 54, col. 1 ; 
cf. Nedarim, fol. 39, col. 2) we read: " Seven things were 
created before the world. These are: the Law, for it is 
said : ' The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, 
before his works of old' (Prov. viii. 22); Repentance, for it 
is said: ' Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever 
thouhadst formed the earth and the world . . ., thou saidst: 
Return, ye children of men' (Ps. xc. 2, 3); the Garden of 
Eden, for it is said: 'And the Lord planted the Garden 
before' (Gen. ii. 8); Hell, for it is said: 'For Tophet is 
ordained of old ' (Is. xxx. 33) ; the glorious Throne and the 
Site of the Sanctuary, for it is said : ' The glorious throne 
called from the beginning, and the place of our sanctuary ' 
(Jer. xvii. 12); the Name of the Messias, for it is said: 
'His name shall endure for ever, before the sun (existed) 
his name was Yinnon.'" 

To show that the Synagogue always regarded Yinnon as 
the Messias, we may appeal to the prayers for the Day of 
Atonement: "Before he created anything, he established 
his dwelling, and Yinnon the lofty armory he established 
from the beginning, before any people or language. He 
counselled to surfer his divine presence to rest there, that 


those who err might be guided into the path of rectitude. 
Though their wickedness be flagrant, yet hath he caused 
repentance to precede it, when he said: 'AVash ye, cleanse 
yourselves.' Though he should be exceedingly angry with 
his people, yet will the Holy One not awaken all his wrath. 
We have hitherto been cut off through our evil deeds, yet 
hast thou, our Rock, not brought consummation on us. 
The Messias, our righteousness, is departed from us; horror 
has seized us, and we have none to justify us. He hath 
borne the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression, and 
is wounded because of our transgression; he beareth our 
sins on his shoulder, that he may find pardon for our ini- 
quities. We shall be healed by his wound, at the time that 
the Eternal will create him as a new creature. bring 
him up from the circle of the earth, raise him up from 
Seir, to assemble us a second time on Mount Lebanon, by 
the hand of Yinnon." A number of other Rabbinic testi- 
monies regarding the Messianic nature of Psalm lxxi. may 
be seen in Keinke's " Messianischc Psalmen," ii. pp. 45 f., 
Giessen, 1858. 

Ps. LXXI. 1-17. 

1 Give to the king thy judgment, O God, 
And to the king's son thy justice, 
To judge thy people with justice, 
And thy poor with judgment. 

2 Let the mountains receive peace for the people, 

1 Give to the king. The parallel terms in the first stanza are: "king " 
and "king's son," both referring to the Messias, who is the divinely- 
appointed king, and David's royal son ; "judgment" and "justice," 
constituting together the gift of perfect rule; thy people and thy poor, 
for the people was really destitute of all supernatural goods, and was 
entirely given over into the hands of its merciless enemy. The clause 
" to judge " would be more correctly rendered either "he will judge " 
or " may he judge." 

2 Let the mountains. The parallel terms in the second stanza are : 
"mountains" and "hills," represented here as bringing forth peace, 
because they are the most conspicuous parts of the country, or be- 
cause they are the most sterile part of the land, so that their fertility 
will excite most admiration, or again, because they are the most 


And the hills justice. 

He shall judge the poor of the people, 

And he shall save the children of the poor. 

3 And he shall humble the oppressor, 
And he shall continue with the sun, 
And before the moon, throughout all generations. 
4 He shall come down like rain upon the fleece, 
And as showers, falling gently upon the earth; 
In his days shall justice spring up, 
And abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away. 

& And he shall rule from sea to sea, 

representative portion of the land ; mountains and hills signify meta- 
phorically kings and princes ; "peace" and "judgment" arc parallel 
terms, because the poor and the children of the poor will find their 
peace in obtaining justice ; to judge them justly is to save them. 

:i And he shall humble. According to Bickell the first line of this 
stanza is wanting in the present text. The second line continues the 
prayer of the preceding stanza in favor of the poor and helpless 
against the rich and powerful. Instead of rendering "and lie shall 
continue . . . " it would be better to translate: "they shall fear 
thee with the sun and before the moon . . . ," i.e., the kingdom of 
the Messias will endure forever. 

4 He shall come down. With this stanza begins a description of 
the eternity and the universality of the Messianic rule. A simple 
reading of the text suffices to show us that, according to the present 
collocation of stanzas, the description of the kingdom's eternity and 
universality is blended with the description of its justice and mercy. 
Hence Bickell has transposed vv. 12-15 between vv. 7 and 8 (accord- 
ing to our division, the third and fourth stanza from the end would 
have to be placed after the third stanza from the beginning). Hut 
this manner of transposing the text appears to be too violent a meas- 
ure to deserve commendation. The rain falling on the cut-off grass, 
and the showers gently irrigating the earth, present a beautiful pic- 
ture of the meek and benevolent influence of the Messianic rule. 
Justice and peace are again identified, and are held out as the result 
of the Messias' rule, and like the latter the former will last to the 
end of the moon, i. e., forever. 

5 And he shall rule. The extent of the rule is first described by the 
limits of the territory ; then by the homage of the subjects. The 
territory reaches from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of 
the earth, a. These limits are the same as those described in Ex. 
xxiii. 31 : " And I will set thy bounds from the Red tSea to the sea 
of the Palestines, and from the desert to the river [Euphrates]." The 
king will, therefore, according to this explanation, reign over the 
whole of Palestine, from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, and 
from the latter to the Bed Sea. a. But this explanation does not tit 
into the context, since in the following clause the kingdom is said to 


And from the river unto the ends of the earth; 
Before him the Ethiopians shall fall down, 
And his enemies shall lick the ground. 

6 The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents, 
The kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts, 
And all kings of the earth shall adore him, 
All nations shall serve him. 

7 For he shall deliver the poor from the mighty, 
And the needy that have no helper; 
He shall spare the poor and needy, 
And he shall save the souls of the poor. 
He shall redeem their souls from usuries and iniquity, 

extend " unto the ends of the earth." ft. The king too is represented 
as superior to all other kings, for " all kings of the earth shall adore 
him." b. Other interpreters have, therefore, expressed the opinion 
that the psalmist uses the above phrases as they are used by Zacha- 
rias (ix. 10) : " And his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the 
rivers even to the end of the earth." Here the Messianic kingdom is 
described as embracing all the parts of the earth, and the description 
is couched in nearly the same terms that are used by the psalmist 
(ef. Ps. ii. 8 ; Dan. iv. 19). It is hard to determine the exact seas 
which the prophet and the psalmist refer to ; perhaps they are the 
Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean ; perhaps the expressions are 
indefinite, and stand for any two seas whatever, or again they may 
stand for the seas that surrounded the habitable land according to 
the ideas of the ancients. 

6 The kings of Tharsis. As in the preceding lines the psalmist 
mentions the uncivilized inhabitants of the dry countries or of the 
desert, and even the enemies of the king as licking the dust, so does 
he in the present stanza introduce the nations from the farthest 
west, from Tartessus in Spain and from the islands together with the 
most eastern peoples, from Arabia and Saba, as doing homage to the 
king by means of the presents they offer him. Their gifts and 
presents are probably looked upon as being brought at regular 
seasons and stated times, so that they amount to the tribute of sub- 
ject kings. Tartessus in Spain was celebrated for its silver and other 
metals ; Saba was reputed for its gold and its rich ointments. All 
this well applies to Solomon, and for this reason have several com- 
mentators explained the literal sense of tin; psalm as referring to 
Solomon. It seems preferable, for the reasons above given, to apply 
all this literally to Jesus Christ, though it may be granted that the 
description is painted in Solomonic colors. 

7 For he shall deliver the poor. In this stanza the psalmist assigns 
the reason why all tin; kings will become the willing subjects of the 
Messianic king. It was an especial duty of the king to defend the 
needy and give justice to the imploring poor, to feel for the helpless 
and save the lives of the unprotected. 


8 And their name shall be honorable in his sight, 

And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Arabia, 

For him they shall always adore; they shall bless him all the day. 

°And there shall be a firmament on the earth, 

On the tops of mountains, 

Above Libanus shall the fruit thereof be exalted, 

And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. 

10 Let his name be blessed for evermore, 
His name continucth before the sun. 
And in him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed, 
All nations shall magnify him. 


It is true that the tenth verse is applied in the Liturgy 
of the Church to the adoration of the Magi; but it would 

8 And their name. According to the Hebrew text we must render : 
" And costly is their blood in his sight." Hence the king will make 
every effort to prevent the blood of the poor from being shed need- 
lessly. As to the clause "he shall live" interpretations vary con- 
cerning its subject, a. Some maintain that the " afflicted " is the 
subject. The meaning of the whole passage is then the following : 
" And the poor shall live, and through gratitude he shall give to the 
king of the gold of Arabia, and pray for him continually, and bless 
him all the day." The only difficulty in this explanation arises from 
the fact that the poor is represented as possessing the gold of Arabia; 
but Hitzig regards the psalm as the work of an age when many of 
the Jews had enriched themselves by commerce, though they wen; 
still looked down upon by the Gentile nations, b. Other interpreters 
are of opinion that the king is the subject of the phrase "and he 
shall live." This gives us the meaning : " Let the king live forever ! 
they shall give him of the gold of Arabia, for him they shall always 
pray, and shall bless him all the day." The exclamation in this in- 
terpretation is surely very abrupt. Cheyne, therefore, suggests that 
the passage may be a quotation from some intercessory prayer for the 

9 And there shall be a firmament. The Hebrew text reads: "Let 
there be a handful of corn (sown) on the earth, upon the top of the 
mountains, its fruit will wave like (the cedars of) Lebanon ; they 
shall blossom (may they blossom) out of the city like the herb of the 

10 Let his name be blessed. The Hebrew text reads: "His name 
shall be forever ; his name shall continue while shines the sun ; all 
the nations shall bless themselves by him, and call him happy." 
These lust phrases are evident allusions to the patriarchal blessings. 


be wrong to limit its meaning to that event alone. The 
homage of the Magi formed only the beginning of the ful- 
filment of the psalm. The prophecy in its adequate mean- 
ing has reference to all the Gentiles that are to be con- 
verted to Christ. 



Jer. xxxi. 15-26. 


1. Connection of the Prophecy with its Context — 

Up to chapter xxx. Jeremias has accomplished the first part 
of his calling, which is described in i. 10 : " Lo I have set thee 
this day over the nations, and over kingdoms, to root up, 
and to pull down, and to waste and to destroy." Though he 
gives us even in this part of his book glimpses of a brighter 
future (cf. iii. 14-18; v. 18; xxiii. 3-8), still he does not 
fully accomplish the second part of his mission, which is " to 
build and to plant." Chapters xxx.-xxxiii. are wholly de- 
voted to this easier and more congenial task. They may 
be conceived as consisting of three parts. The restoration 
is predicted and described in chapters xxx. and xxxi.; in 
chapter xxxii. the promise is confirmed by a symbolical ac- 
tion; in chapter xxxiii. finally we find another verbal con- 
firmation of the same prediction. 

Since the present prophecy is contained in the first of 
the above three parts, we may confine our attention to the 
consideration of chapters xxx. and xxxi. They contain the 
following divisions: a. xxx. 1-3 is the introduction to the 
whole; b. after the general introduction promising freedom 
and restoration, the prophet describes these gifts in four 
stanzas, representing the promised blessings under ever 
varying aspects: xxx. 4-11, the national calamity may re- 
semble the pangs of child-birth, but the Lord will break 
the yoke of his people, and restore David's royal rule; xxx. 


12-22, though the wounds of the people are incurable by 
human means, the Lord himself will heal them, restoring 
the nation and the state, and sending the Messianic king 
and priest; xxx. 23-xxxi. 14, though the Lord's whirl- 
wind will go forth and exercise its fury against the wicked, 
God will be mindful of his eternal promises to Israel, 
the city will be rebuilt, and the land of the covenant will 
be again the Israelites' possession; xxxi. 15-2G, Rachel 
may now weep over the unhappy lot of her children, but 
their return is certain; they have already given signs of re- 
pentance, c. After the fourfold description of Israel's 
deliverance follow four predictions of future blessings: 
xxxi. 27-30 the Lord promises a great increase of num- 
bers in the land; xxxi. 31-34, a new covenant is prom- 
ised to the returning exiles; xxxi. 35-37, the Lord assures 
his people that his promises are as unfailing as the laws of 
nature; xxxi. 38-40, an accurate description of the future 
city limits is given. Our prophecy is then identical with 
the fourth stanza, which describes the restoration of Israel. 

2. Time of the Prophecy.— From xxxii. 2 and xxxiii. 1 
it follows that those two chapters belong to the period of 
the prophet's honorable detention in the "court of the 
prison." Now this occurred in Sedecias' tenth year, during 
the second part of the siege, which had been interrupted 
by a temporary withdrawal of the Chaldeans, who attacked 
the Egyptian armies that had been sent to rescue Jerusa- 
lem. Chapters xxxii. and xxxiii. belong therefore to the 
year 589 B.C. Since chapters xxx. and xxxi. constitute a 
continuous whole with the following two chapters, they too 
must have been uttered about the same time, though from 
xxx. 2 it is probable that the contents were uttered before 
they were committed to writing. The words "at that 
time " of xxxii. 2 furnish another proof that the prophecies 
were not written till after Jerusalem had fallen into the 
hands of the Chaldeans. 

3. Explanations of Rachel's Weeping in Rama. — 
a. The Hebrew word "Rama" must be rendered "on 


high/' so that we find the right translation in the Vulgate 
and the English text. a. But in the Greek text (excepting 
A and S) the word has been taken as a proper name. ft. 
Besides, there is hardly a satisfactory reason assignable 
why Eachel should weep "on high;" for the circumstance 
that from such a place her lamentation could be heard far- 
ther, or that she could observe her children going into cap- 
tivity from such a position is no sufficient reason for the 
prophet's language. 

b. Other authors render the word "Rama" as a proper 
name, maintaining that in Rama is Rachel's tomb, and 
that she is therefore rightly represented as weeping in 
Rama. From Gen. xxxv. 19, and from the testimony of 
travellers, it is clear that Rachel's tomb is near Bethlehem ; 
I. Kings x. 2 is rightly explained by de Hummelauer, 
Comment., p. 112. 

c. Rachel is said to weep in Rama because the latter is 
situated on the limits of the two kingdoms, so that her 
voice can be heard in both (Keil, Schneedorfer), or be- 
cause Rama is the Israelite city nearest to Jerusalem, so 
that Rachel's lamentations over the captivity of the Israel- 
ite tribes can be heard by Jehovah residing in Jerusalem 
(Scholz). The principal reasons on which this opinion 
rests are reduced to the assumption that Rachel must have 
wept over the fate of the ten tribes alone (Jerome, Calmet, 
Trochon), and to the difficulty of finding a more satisfac- 
tory solution. 

d. Rachel weeps in Rama for the reason assigned in Jer. 
xl. 1: " The word that came. . . ." This and the testimony 
of Josephus (Antiq. VIII. xii. 3) show that the Jewish 
captives were reviewed in Rama previously to their being 
taken to Babylon, and that all such as were unequal to the 
journey were there put to death. Being the mother of 
Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasses, Rachel is regarded as 
the mother of the twelve tribes, the ruin of which became 
complete when even the southern kingdom Avas destroyed, 
and when its king and nobles were led into captivity 


(Ephrem, Sa, Sanchez, Maldonatus, Mariana). That this 
is the right explanation of the passage may be seen from 
the context. In xxx. 4 both Juda and Israel are addressed; 
xxxi. 5, 9 contains promises given to Ephraim, bnt xxxi. 6, 
12 contains promises for Juda; again, the promises made 
to Ephraim (xxxi. 18, 20) are closely connected with 
Juda's promises (xxxi. 23, 24). Since then both kingdoms 
are remembered in the promises, what prevents us from 
seeing in the lamentation of Rachel her grief over the ruin 
of both kingdoms ? 

4. Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— St. Matt, 
ii. 18 applies the present prophecy concerning Rachel's 
weeping to the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. In this 
the Evangelist furnishes us a beautiful commentary on the 
prophet. According to the literal sense of the latter, 
Rachel weeps over the ruin of her children's kingdoms, 
brought on by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Hut 
the true and final ruin of Israel will follow the nation's 
rejection of the Messias. If then Rachel weeps over the 
temporary downfall of Juda and Israel, she weeps with 
much more reason over their lasting destruction. Now the 
beginning of the Messias' rejection by the Jewish nation 
is manifested in his first persecution, when his life is 
sought that he may not become the king of Israel. Hence 
the Evangelist beautifully shows the true fulfilment of 
Jeremias' prediction regarding Rachel's lamenting the 
ruin of the nation, representing it as mingled with the 
weeping of the mothers whose innocent children are slain 
in the Messias' first deadly persecution. 

Jer. xxxi. 15-26. 

Thus saith the Lord : A voice was heard on high of lamenta- 
tion, of mourning and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her chil- 
dren, and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are 
not. Thus saith the Lord : Let thy voice cease from weeping, 


and thy eyes from tears, for 1 there is a reward for thy work, 
saith the Lord, and they shall return out of the land of the enemy. 
And there is hope for thy last end, saith the Lord, and the chil- 
dren shall return to their own borders. Hearing I heard Ephraim 
when he went into captivity : 2 Thou hast chastised me, and I was 
instructed, as a young bullock unaccustomed to the yoke ; con- 
vert me, and I shall be converted, for thou art the Lord my God. 
For after thou didst convert me, I did penance, and after thou 
didst show unto me, I struck my thigh. I am confounded and 
ashamed, because I have born the reproach of my youth. 3 Surely 
Ephraim is an honorable son to me, surely he is a tender child ; 
for since I spoke to him I will still remember him. Therefore 
are my bowels troubled for him ; pitying I will pity him, saith the 
Lord. "Set thee up a watchtower, make to thee bitterness, direct 
thy heart into the right way, wherein thou hast walked : return, 

1 There is a reward for thy work. The reward of the mother's work 
consists in the goodness and the success of her children. Rachel's 
work, consisting in her care and anxiety for her offspring, will then 
be rewarded by Juda's and Israel's return to their land of promise (cf. 
Malvenda, Mariana, Sa, Cahnet, Knabenb.). 

8 Thou hast chastised me. The Hebrew text reads : " I heard Eph- 
raim lamenting : Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised. ..." 
Ephraim acknowledges his faults, and prays God for the grace of 
conversion. Hence Rachel may feel confident that God will have 
mercy on her offspring. The words ' ' after thou didst convert me I 
did penance," are more faithfully rendered : " after my falling away 
I did penance," or "after 1 was averted from thee 1 did penance. ' 
Ephraim strikes his thigh as a sign of repentance, and he accepts his 
shame as a satisfaction for his transgressions. 

3 Surely Ephraim is an honorable son to me. According to the origi- 
nal text we must render the phrase as a question, " Is Ephraim an 
honorable son to me ? is he a tender child ? As often as I speak 
against him I lovingly remember him." The Lord is represented as 
being astonished at himself for his exceeding mercy towards Ephraim. 
For he loves him almost in spite of himself, a. The rendering of the 
Vulgate, " since the time 1 spoke of him. . . ."gives a satisfactory 
meaning ; but the Hebrew particle does not signify " since the time," 
but " as often as." b. Those who render : "As often as 1 speak of 
him I remember him," do not reflect that God cannot speak of any 
one without remembering him. c. Those, on the contrary, who ren- 
der "as often as I speak to him in love," i.e., in order to win his 
love, must consider that Ephraim is here not represented as a virgin, 
whose love is sought, but as a wayward son. 

4 Set thee up a watchtower. The Hebrew text must be rendered : 
" Set the up signs (to indicate the way), erect unto thee columns (for 
the same purpose)." Then follows an exhortation to walk back in the 
way thus marked out. This exhortation changes into an urgent de- 


O virgin of Israel, return to these thy cities. How long wilt thou 
be dissolute in deliciousness, O wandering daughter ? for the Lord 
hath created a new thing upon the earth : 5 A woman shall com- 
mand, in the words : " How long wilt thou be dissolute . . . ? " This 
last address shows hesitancy and fickleness of purpose on the part of 
the person addressed. 

5 A woman shall compass a man. Explanations : a. A woman shall 
protect a man (Rosenmuller, Umbreit, Gesenius, Bade). It would be 
surely a new thing if a weak and timid woman were to protect a 
strong and courageous man. a. But this is, in the first place, a 
rather ludicrous motive to propose to the men of Israel in order to 
move them to return, ft. Again, in peace, such a defence is useless ; 
in war, such a protection is not desirable. 

b. Another explanation contends that the passage means : a woman 
shall seek a man. But not to mention the difficulty of drawing this 
meaning out of the Hebrew text, Is. iv. 1 assigns this reversed order 
of the sexual seeking as a sign of the greatest calamity. 

a. Ewald has proposed the rendering : a woman shall change into 
a man, i.e., by God's assistance even the woman shall attain the 
strength and the courage of a man. But this interpretation, too, dif- 
fers from the meaning of the Hebrew text. 

d. Sanchez, Tirinus, Calmet, Keil, Cheyne, Niigelsbach, and oth- 
ers interpret the woman as designating the Synagogue or Israel, and 
the man as signifying God. The meaning of the whole clause is, 
therefore, that God will again dwell in the midst of Israel, that 
Israel will convert itself wholly to its God, or that Israel will again 
adhere to God with all the fervor of its former love. a. But the 
Hebrew text hardly admits of such a meaning ; fl. there is no special 
reason for understanding by the woman Israel or the Synagogue ; 
y. and finally, according to this interpretation the meaning of the 
whole passage would be tautological : Israel shall return to its God, 
for Israel shall love its God. 

e. Orelli's interpretation : the Church of God will protect the earth 
with its robust and valiant men, must be rejected for the same rea- 
sons which we urged against the last opinion. 

/. Jerome, Thomas, Vatable, Maldonatus, Sanchez, Sa, Mariana, 
Lapide, Estius, Menochius, Tirinus, Malvenda, Gordon, Loch, 
Mayer, Scholz, Trochon, Knabenbauer, and many others have, there- 
fore, adopted the interpretation "a woman, i.e., the Blessed Virgin, 
shall compass a man, i.e., the Word Incarnate." This interpretation 
must be adopted for the following reasons : 1. It fits accurately into 
the context. 2. It satisfies the two conditions that must be verified 
regarding this text ; it must be verified in the Messianic time, as the 
preceding stanzas too end with the hope of the Messianic time (xxx. 
9; 21 ; xxxi. 11 ff\), and it must agree with the existing Messianic 
predictions, since Jeremias often repeats previous Messianic promises 
in order to impress them on the mind and heart of his people (cf. Is. 
vii. 14 ; ix. 6 ; Mich. v. 3). 3. <r. As to the exception that the Hebrew 
term here used does not mean " virgin," there is no need of expressly 
calling the Messias' mother virgin every time she is referred to. /j m 
As to the absence of the definite article before the noun "woman," 


pass a man. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel : As 
yet shall they say this word in B the land of Juda, and in the cities 
thereof, when I shall bring back their captivity : The Lord bless 
thee, the beauty of justice, the holy mountain. And Juda and 
all his cities shall dwell therein together, the husbandman and 
they that drive the flocks. For I have inebriated the weary soul, 
and I have filled every hungry soul. Upon this I was as it were 
awaked out of sleep, and I saw, and my sleep was sweet to me. 


1. It follows from what has been said that Jeremias' 
prophecy in its literal sense does not refer to the slaughter 
of the Holy Innocents. But, on the other hand, it cannot 
be said that the prophet's words can be understood of the 
Holy Innocents only by way of accommodation. For as 
we have seen, Eachel weeps over the destruction of her 
people, brought about by the Assyrian and the Babylonian 
captivities. Now this ruin was only a type of the future 
ruin that was to follow Israel's rejection of its Messias. 
The latter ruin began, therefore, with the slaughter of the 
Holy Innocents, since with this began the outward rejec- 
tion of the Messias. Rachel, therefore, is really weeping 
and wailing over the fate of her people in the lamentations 
of the Bethlehemite women. 

this construction occurs also in other passages where a definite per- 
son is spoken of (cf. Ewald, Lehrbuch, sect. 277 b.c). y . The Greek 
Fathers do not unanimously follow this explanation, because they 
commonly adhere to the rendering of the LXX. version, which reads : 
"men shall go about in safety." Still, St. Athanasius twice ap- 
peals to the rendering of Aquila, "God has created a new thing in 
woman," and explains the text of the Incarnation. 

6 In the land of Juda. Since there has been question of the Mes- 
sias in the preceding sentence, the transition to the land of Juda, 
whose king the Messias is, offers nothing surprising. The address : 
"The Lord bless thee, O beauty of justice, O holy mountain," indi- 
cates the principal features of the Messianic effects in Jerusalem. 
Juda with its cities, the husbandman and the shepherd shall again 
live in the promised land, God having given abundance to all the 
hungry and the weary. After this the prophet (not Jehovah, nor 
Juda) awakes from his sleep, i.e., his state of prophetic ecstasy, and 
rejoices in the glad promises he had received. 


2. Since the words, " a woman shall compass a man/' 
refer to the Blessed Virgin's conception of the Word Incar- 
nate, and since the same are said to describe " a new thing 
upon the earth," it follows that the Word's conception will 
be brought about in an extraordinary manner. Isaias pre- 
dicted that the mother would be a virgin; Micheas too 
calls the Messias' mother a virgin, but Jeremias describes 
her conceiving as miraculous. The meaning of these pre- 
dictions was not fully determined till the angel said to 
Mary: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the 
power of the Most High shall overshadow thee " (Luke i. 




1. Connection of the Prophecy with its Context.— 

The prophet, beginning with ix. 10 and continuing to xiv. 
10, has two main points in view: a. He describes what 
God has done for his people, and what the people has done 
for God. b. He depicts the future Messianic salvation. In 
the first part of c. xi., where our prophecy is found, the 
sacred writer calls special attention to the following con- 
trasts: a. God has led his peoj)le out of Egypt, and has 
instructed it by means of his prophets, but the people has 
adhered to its idols, b. God has guarded the people by a 
special providence, but the people has most ungratefully 
ignored God. c. God has shown his loving assistance in 
all his people's difficulties and trials; but now it shall be 
given over to the sword and to exile, and its punishment 
shall not be averted, because it is impenitent. 

2. Messianic Character of the Prophecy.— a. The 
words " I called my son out of Egypt " refer in their literal 
sense to God's freeing the Israelites out of the Egyptian 
bondage, a. This is evident from the whole context of 
the passage, ft. and is well illustrated by the words of 
Ex. iv. 22 and xix. 5, 6, where Israel is called God's first- 
born, and God's priestly and royal race. y. The same 
may be inferred from the LXX. rendering, "my sons," 
which applies to the whole Israelite nation, and from the 
Chaldee paraphrase, which gives a similar translation. Still 


Aquila, Symmachns, and Theodotion follow the Hebrew- 
text, retaining its singular number. 

b. St. Matthew (ii. 15), speaking of our Lord's stay in 
Egypt, says : " And he was there until the death of Herod, 
that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the 
prophet, saying out of Egypt have I called my son." 
There can then be no doubt that the prophet's words were 
in some real sense fulfilled by the return of the child Jesus 
from Egypt. This is not hard to understand, if we reflect 
that Israel's adoption to the sonship of God was only a 
figure of the Messias' real sonship; Israel's call from 
Egypt is therefore rightly regarded as prefiguring the 
Messias' recall from the land of exile. 

Os. xi. 1-7. 

Because J Israel was a child, and I loved him, and I called my 
son out of Egypt. As they called them that went away from 
before their face, they offered victims to Baalim, and sacrificed to 
idols. And I was like a foster-father to Ephraim, I carried them 
in my arms, and they knew not that I healed them. I will draw 
them with the cords of Adam, with the bonds of love, and I will 

1 Because Israel was a child. The Hebrew conjunction rendered 
" because " has both a causal and a temporal meaning (when). The 
latter interpretation is preferred by Jerome, the Syriac version, Sa, 
Mariana, Tirinus; but the LXX., Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion 
adhere to the causal meaning of the conjunction. God, therefore, 
says : Even when Israel was a child I loved him on account of his 
very helplessness and called him out of the Egyptian captivity from 
Avhich he could not have been freed by any natural means. But as 
my prophets, one and all, spoke to the nation, it turned away its face 
from them, and adhered to its idols. I behaved towards Ephraim 
like a nurse, taking them as one takes a child over his arms, but 
Ephraim did not know me. I drew Ephraim with the bonds of 
human love and affection, and I behaved to them as a merciful hus- 
bandman treats his ox, freeing him at stated intervals from his gall- 
ing yoke, and I procured even his food for him. But the severity of 
the punishment will be in keeping with the greatness of the offence ; 
the Egyptian bondage may have been extremely irksome, Ephraim's 
bondage will be more cruel yet ; the king of Assyria will invade the 
land, his sword shall whirl down upon the cities and the strong 
places, and the inhabitants shall be led away without hope of ever 


be to them as one that taketh off the yoke on their jaws, and I 
put his meat to him that he might eat. He shall not return into 
the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because 
they would not be converted. The sword hath begun in his cities, 
and it shall consume his chosen men, and shall devour their heads. 
And my people shall long for my return, but a yoke shall be put 
upon them together, which shall not be taken off. 


According to Pusey, St. Matthew does not appeal to this 
prophecy in order to prove anything, but only for the sake 
of pointing out the relation of God's former dealings with 
the people. The ulterior object of the evangelist is there- 
fore nothing else than to remove the prejudice that 
might arise in the mind of a high-caste Jew from the 
circumstance that the early infancy of Jesus was passed in a 
polluted, heathen land. St. Matthew's argument proceeds, 
therefore, in this way: Your fathers have lived in the land 
of the unbeliever and the Gentile. But this fact has been 
no obstacle to God's love for your nation. Therefore 
Jesus' life in Egypt cannot be considered an obstacle to 
his divine mission and his divine character. It has been 
shown that St. Matthew had a far better reason for appeal- 
ing to Osee's prediction concerning Ephraim, and that 
therefore the object mentioned by Pusey cannot be said to 
be the evangelist's sole motive for quoting the prophet. 



THE MESSIAS IS THE ORIENT. Zacii. hi.; vi. 9-15. 


1. Connection of the Prophecies with their Con- 
text. — The Book of Zacharias is divided into three parts: 
the first contains a short introduction, and then proposes 
eight visions (i. 1-vi. 8); the second teaches the people 
how to prepare for the Messianic benefits that have been 
promised (vii., viii.). In the third part the burden of the 
Lord against Hadrach and Israel is described (chapters ix.- 
xi. ; xii.-xiv.). Our two prophecies belong to the first part: 
Chapter i. 7-17 contains a vision of the divine chariots and 
horses, which are the Lord's messengers upon earth; i. 18-21 
represents four horns, symbolizing the nations hostile to 
Israel; ii. shows the dimensions of the new Jerusalem 
under the image of an angel going out with his measuring- 
line to lay out the site of the new city; iii. Josue or Jesus, 
the highpriest, stands before the Lord, laden with the 
sins of the people; iv. a golden candlestick and two olive- 
trees represent the restored community; v. 1-4, a roll in- 
scribed with curses flies over the land, as a sign that in 
future the curse for crime will of itself light upon the 
criminal; v. 5-11, Israel's guilt, personified by a woman, is 
cast into an ephah-measure, covered by its heavy lid, and 


transported to Babylon; vi. 1-8, four chariots, with various- 
ly colored horses, appear in order to execute judgment in 
the different quarters of the earth. Chapter vi. 9-15 forms 
an historical appendix. 

As to the time of these prophecies, Zacharias lived and 
prophesied in the second and fourth years of Darius 
Hystaspis (i. 1, 7; vii. 1). Hence we must refer the book 
to the years 520 and 518 B.C. The eighth month of the 
second year of Darius falls between the date of Agg. ii. 1-9 
and Agg. ii. 10-19. Zach. i. 7-vi. 8 belongs to the twenty- 
fourth day of the eleventh month of the same year, while 
chapters vii., viii. are ascribed to the fourth day of the ninth 
month of the fourth year of Darius. 

Returning to the third chapter, we may divide it into 
two parts : vv. 1-5, the highpriest appears laden with the 
sins of the people and is accused by Satan, but acquitted 
and given rule over the temple, with the right of priestly 
access to the Lord; vv. 6-10, the divine protection, the 
coming of the Messias, the restoration of the theocracy, and 
abundance of peace are promised. In the second prophecy, 
vi. 9-15, the prophet is commanded to take of the gold and 
silver which some of the exiles had sent as offerings for the 
temple, and to make therewith crowns for the highpriest. 
At the same time, the prophet repeats the promise of the 
Messias, who will rule successfully, and complete the build- 
ing of the temple. 

2. Messianic Character of the Prophecies.— The 
Messianic bearing of both prophecies may be proved from 
the name Orient, which is given to the promised deliverer 
and restorer. "I will bring my servant the Orient," the 
prophet says, iii. 8; and vi. 12, "behold a man, the Orient 
is his name." Now it must be noted that in both places the 
Hebrew text reads "tsemach," or "bud," instead of Orient. 
But the name " bud " is peculiar to the Messias. Hence 
the above passages refer to the Messias. As to the statement 
that " bud " signifies the Messias in the language of the Old 
Testament prophets, numerous instances show its undeni- 


able truthfulness. Is. iv. 2 reads: "In that day the bud of 
the Lord shall be in magnificence;" Jer. xxiii. 5 has a simi- 
lar promise: " Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, and I 
will raise up to David a just branch (tsemach)." Again, 
in xxxiii. 15 the divine promise is worded similarly: "In 
those days, and at that time, I will make the bud of justice 
to spring forth unto David." A similar argument might 
be drawn from the Hebrew text of II. Kings xxxii. 2-5. 
But the passages quoted sufficiently show that the prophets 
designate the Messias by " bud " or " bud of the Lord." 

Besides, in Zach. iii. 8 the " bud" is called " my servant." 
But "servant'' is another Messianic title. Hence in this 
passage the "bud," or the Orient, as it is rendered in our 
version, designates the Messias. To complete the inferen- 
tial value of this argument, we have only to show that in 
prophetic language "servant" is a name of the Messias. 
Since this will be clearly demonstrated in the fifth chapter 
of this treatise, we need not weary the reader by an antici- 
pation of the proof. 

But it may be asked how the name Orient can have been 
received into our versions instead of the original "bud." 
It appears that this exchange of names is due to a mis- 
understanding of the Greek word ayaro^r), by which the 
LXX. rendered the Hebrew " tsemach" (n^ifc). Jerome (in 
vi. 12) undoubtedly considers the Greek avaroXr/ as de- 
rived from avareXXeiv, which is used of the rising sun or 
moon, but also of growing plants. The LXX. must have 
introduced the word into their version in this latter mean- 
ing. But subsequent translators took the avaroXij of the 
LXX. in its more common acceptation, as signifying the 
rising of the sun or the moon, and hence also the region 
in which that phenomenon takes place, i.e., the east. Fol- 
lowing the analogy of this reasoning, Ribera maintains that 
even the Orient of Luke i. 78 must be taken in the sense of 
'* bud," or " plant." Zachary, the author tells us, ascribes 
to this growing-up plant the power " to enlighten them 
that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death," because 


this plant alone is "the true light which enlighteneth 
every man that cometh into this world." The father of 
the Baptist, therefore, did not think of the figure of the 
rising sun when he spoke about the light issuing from the 
Orient. The LXX. rendering of Ezech. xvi. 7; xvii. 10; 
Gen. xix. 25; Is. Ixi. 11 confirms this interpretation of 
" tsemach" ( n - : ^). For in the former two passages the 
Hebrew term is rendered avaroXif with such additional 
determinations as to render the reference of the Geek word 
to the growing plant undeniably evident. In the passage 
of Gen. the LXX. employ the plural participle, so that they 
evidently think of " buds" or " plants/' while in the pas- 
sage of Isaias they render the Hebrew term by " flower." 
Still, these reasons do not remove all doubt; in Syriac the 
word " tsemach " ( n ^^) is applied to the rising sun, so that 
the Syriac version interprets " tsemach " in Zach. iii. as 
" radiance," or " brightness." It is, therefore, possible that 
the LXX. too may have understood the passage in the same 
manner, especially since they interpret " tsemach " in Is. 
iv. 2 as applying to the giving forth of light. 

Finally, we must draw attention to the circumstance 
that the Targum too applies these prophetic passages to 
the Messias. Zach. iii. 8 is rendered : " Behold, I brins: 
my servant the Messias, who shall be revealed." And the 
same Targum renders Zach. vi. 12: "And thou shalt speak 
to him, saying: Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, 
Behold, the man, Messias is his name, who shall hereafter 
be revealed and anointed." A great number of Rabbinic 
testimonies showing that " branch," or " bud," is a Mes- 
sianic name have been quoted in the explanation of Jer. 
xxiii. 6 in part I. chap. vi. sect. 2. But eveii the Rationalists 
generally grant that " branch," or " bud," is a Messianic 
title in the prophetic writings of the Hebrews. 

It may, however, be asked whether the prophecies refer 
to the Messias in their literal sense, or only in their typical 
meaning. Most writers hold the former opinion; still, St. 
Ephrem, Theodoret, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Bar- 


hebraeus interpret the "branch," or " bud/' in its literal 
sense as referring to Zorobabel, while Eusebius refers the 
literal meaning of the word to Jesus the highpriest; 
Calmet among the more recent writers has applied the literal 
sense to Zorobabel or Nehemias. But all these interpreters 
.agree in applying the typical sense of the prophecies to the 

Zach. hi. 

1 And the Lord showed me Jesus the highpriest standing before 
the angel of the Lord, and Satan stood on his right hand to be his 
adversary. And the Lord said to Satan: The Lord rebuke thee, 
O Satan, and the Lord that chose Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not 

1 And the Lord showed me Jesus. It appears from Is. xxviii. 7 ; 
Jer ii 8 ; v. 31 ; vi. 13; viii 10, etc.; Os. v. 1 ; Mich. iii. 11; Soph. 
iii. 4. etc , that the corruption of the Jewish priesthood had been the 
chief cause of the national ruin of the people Since the prophet, 
after describing the downfall of Israel's enemies, comes to predict its 
restoration, he naturally dwells upon the renewed priesthood, because 
a restoration of the latter implies the national re establishment. Hence, 
the highpriest, or the representative of the priesthood, stands before 
the angel of the Lord, the guardian angel of the Hebrew nation. 
Satan, always intent on impeding the work of the priesthood, stands 
at the highpriest's right hand. The angel, who is identified by several 
commentators with St. Michael (cf. Rib., Lap.), addresses Satan in 
words of indignation: " The Lord rebuke thee." To show his ear- 
nestness, he repeats his prayer in almost the same words, only adding 
the reasons why the Lord should restrain the devil: 1. The Lord 
himself has chosen Jerusalem for the place of his special habitation, 
and this divine choice should not be allowed to become frustrated ; 
2. the people is as a brand plucked out of the fire, having suffered 
sufficieutly for its former transgression The priesthood having 
brought about this national ruin, Jesus is properly attired in filthy 
garments The latter are removed by the attending angels at the 
bidding of their superior, the guardian angel of Israel, who explains 
to the highpriest the symbolical meaning of the clean attire : "Be 
hold, I have taken away thy iniquity and have clothed thee with 
change of garments " Finally, even the mitre is restored to the high- 
priest, as in Ezech. xxi. 26 it is taken away from him as a sign of his 
rejection This head-dress is according to the Hebrew text rather the 
royal diadem than the priestly mitre alone For after the restoration 
of the theocracy the highpriest will have to exercise a great deal of 
civil authority Interpreters, however, generally render the Hebrew 
word by " mitre." Another difference between the Hebrew text and 
the common versions deserves notice : according to the former it is 
the prophet who commands the mitre to be replaced, while according 
to the latter the angel himself gives this order. The context de 
mauds that the angel should be the speaker, since the prophet can 


this a brand plucked out of the fire ? And Jesus was clothed with 
filthy garments, and he stood before the face of the angel. Who 
answered and said to them that stood before him, saying: Take 
away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him: Be- 
hold, I have taken away thy iniquity, and have clothed thee with 
change of garments. And he said: Put a clean mitre upon his 
head. And they put a clean mitre upon his head and clothed 
him with garments, and the angel of the Lord stood. And 
the angel of the Lord protested to Jesus, saying: Thus saith the 
Lord of hosts : If thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my 
charge, thou also shalt judge my house, and shalt keep my courts, 
and I' 2 will give thee some of them that are now present here to 
walk with thee. Hear, O Jesus, thou highpriest, thou and thy 
friends, that dwell before thee, for they are 3 portending men; for 
behold, I will bring my servant the Orient. For 4 behold, the 

hardly be conceived as commanding the angels. The LXX. version 
omits the clause which determines the speaker, so that the omission 
itself indicates the angel as the speaker ; the Chaldee version has the 
first person like the present Hebrew text. 

2 Will give thee some of them, b-'ince the restoration of the priest 
hood forms the principal part of the restoration of the theocracy, it is 
described more minutely in the following verses : a. its demands 
and duties are stated ; b. its typical significance is indicated ; c. its 
final point of perfection is described. As to the passage " I will give 
thee some . . . ." commentators differ in their explanations : 1. "1 will 
give thee guardians out of the number of the angels who are now 
present here" (Jerome, Cyril, Kibera, Sanchez, Lapide, Mariana, 
Menochius, Calmet, Schegg, Lyranus, Tirinus, Hengstenberg, etc.). 
The angels will therefore assist the priest in the discharge of his 
onerous and most important duties, in the administration of the tem- 
ple, and the right direction of the Jewish community symbolically 
represented by the temple. 2. "I will give thee places to walk or 
walks among these that stand by, i.e., after thy death thou shalt 
walk among the angels" (cf. Chald., Trochon, Mariana, Houbigant, 
Keil). 3. " I will give thee a place of access among these that stand 
by, thou shalt have an easy way of communing with God and the 
angels " (Revised Version). 4. "I will give thee guides among them 
that are now present here;" this rendering is unknown among the an- 
cients. 5. "I will place thy offspring among them that are present 
here " (Theodotion, Theodore of Mopsuestin, etc.). The first of these 
interpretations is the most probable in itself, and is supported by the 
best authority (besides the above authors, LXX., Syriac, Chal.). 

:i They are portending men. For men of type are they, or men of 
forecast are they. The priests' intercessory office makes them types of 
the great intercessor; or those men can look onward and find in these 
present dispensations of deliverance and restoration a type of the re- 
demption which will come to us through the " Branch " or the "Bud." 

4 Behold the stone that I have laid before Jesus. Explanations ; 


stone that I have laid before Jesus, 5 upon one stone there are seven 
eyes Behold, I will grave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of 
hosts, and I will take away the iniquity of that land in one day. 
In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, every man shall call his 
friend under the vine and under the figtree. 

1. The stone is the Messias (Jerome, Lyranus, Tirinus, Pusey, etc.). 
But this explanation does not well fit into the context , according to 
it the passage reads ■ "I will bring my servant the Orient, for be 
hold the stone (the Messias) that I have laid before Jesus ..." The 
phrases that follow are equally against interpreting the " stone '' as 
the Messias 2 The foundation-stone of the temple is meant (Neu- 
mann, Henderson, Wright) But this view is untenable, because the 
foundation of the temple had been laid before Zacharias uttered the 
prophecy 3 Nor can it be said that the prophet speaks of the key 
stone of the temple, or about a particular precious stone on the 
attire of the highpriest For there is nowhere any ground for as- 
signing such a special importance to either of these stones. 4. It re- 
mains then that we must adhere to the view that considers the stone as 
representing the Jewish theocracy (Schegg, Reinke, Trochon, Knaben 
bauer, Keil, Chambers, etc ) The whole context seems to demand 
such an explanation , the circumstance that in other passages the 
Messias is indicated by the stone does not oppose our interpretation, 
since the same object may serve as the symbol of several persons or 
mysteries. And, what is more, the theocracy may be called the Mes- 
sias in the same manner in which we now say that the Church is 
Christ or his mystical body (cf Ps cxvii 22 ; I. Pet. ii. 7, etc ). 

5 Upon one stone there are seven eyes Explanations . 1. There 
appeared seven eyes engraven upon the stone before the highpriest. 
But iv 10 supposes that the eyes are to be there in the future 
2 The seven eyes represent the divine providence, or the seven gifts 
of the Holy Ghost (cf Apoc v G , Is xi 2 ff ) The number seven 
indicates the perfection and the completeness of the providential care 
and of the spiritual gifts (Theodotion, Sanchez, Menochius, Trochon, 
etc.) But this explanation does not fit as well into the context as it 
should, nor is the parallelism with the passage in the Apocalypse fully 
to the point 3. According to others the passage alludes to the man- 
ners and customs of the Persians, who call the seven highest ministers 
of state the eyes of the king (cf. Suidas, Hesychius, Tirinus, Calmet, 
Reinke) If it be added that in iv. 10 the seven eyes of the Lord are said 
to run to and fro through the whole earth, and that in Apoc. v the 
seven spirits of the Lord are represented as sent out into the whole 
earth, it appears probable that in the prophecy too the seven eyes 
symbolize the seven angels who stand before the Lord (Knabenbauer , 
cf liibera, Lapide, Calmet, Trochon). The seven angels are, therefore, 
watching over the development of the Synagogue, the care of which 
has been given to Jesus, and in him to the priesthood. It may be 
added that those who see a symbol of the Messias in the stone inter- 
pret the words " I will grave the graving thereof" as referring to the 
passion and death of Christ. This can, however, be done only by way 
of accommodation. 


Zach. VI. 9-15. 

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying : Take B of 
them of the Captivity, of Holdai, and of Tobias, and of Idaias ; 
and thou shalt come in that day, and shalt go into the house of 
Josias, the son of Sophonias, who came out of Babylon. And 
thou shalt take gold and silver, and shalt make crowns, and thou 
shalt set them on the head of Jesus the son of Josedec the high- 
priest, and thou shalt speak to him, saying: Thus saith the Lord 
of hosts, saying: 7 Behold a man, the Orient is his name, and 

6 Take of them of the Captivity. God wishes to show how acceptable 
are the Israelite offerings for the benefit of the temple. Hence they 
are set in the very crown of the highpriest. The text speaks about 
crowns in the plural or dual, not about a single crown, a. Some 
have supposed that the highpriest was to wear two crowns ; b. others 
have suggested that the crowns were to represent the royal and the 
priestly dignities, but it seems that this union would be more fitly 
symbolized by two crowns joined into one after the manner of a tiara ; 
c. others again are of opinion that the plural is used in this passage 
for the sole purpose of indicating the magnificence of the crown ; but 
this last view appears to have no better foundation than the Chaldee 

1 Behold a man, the Orient is his name. After placing the crowns on 
the head of the highpriest the prophet is warned to address Jesus, 
reminding him of the antitype of whom he and his followers are 
only a sign. For it has been shown above that the Orient is a proper 
name of the Messias. Then various details concerning the Messias 
are added : 1. Under him shall he spring up, i.e., under him shall 
spring up a multitude of faithful believers (Jerome, Kibera, Lapide, 
Pressel. Cyril), or he shall be born in a lowly condition, and acquire 
the full dignity which belongs to the Messias little by little (Keinke, 
Knabenbauer, etc.). This latter interpretation appears to be the more 
probable one, since the Orient is the subject in the preceding and in 
the following clause. 2. He shall build a temple to the Lord, yea, he 
shall build a temple to the Lord. The prophet shows by repeating 
this second prediction of the Messias how important the temple, the 
real temple, or the Church, is in the sight of God. The highpriest is 
therefore implicitly warned to erect the typical temple with all care 
and solicitude (cf. Dan. ix. 24; I. Cor. iii. 9). 3. He shall bear the 
glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne. After the erection of 
the real temple, after the institution of the Church, the Messias shall 
be glorified, and lie shall occupy the throne which is his in a most 
peculiar way (II Kings vii. 10; Ps. Ixxxviii. 38; Ezech. xxi. 2(>, 
27 ; xvi., xvii. 22, 24 ; Luke i. 82). 4. He shall be a priest upon his 
throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. It may 
be asked who are the two between whom there shall be peace. 
Answers : a. Then; shall be peace between Zorobabel and Jesus the 
highpriest. This is the explanation of those who see in the passage 


under him shall he spring up, and shall build a temple to the 
Lord. Yea, he shall build a temple to the Lord, and he shall 
bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he 
shall be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall 
be between them both. And 8 the crowns shall be to Helem, and 
Tobias, and Idaias, and to Hem, the son of Sophonias, a memorial 
iii the temple of the Lord. And they that are far off shall come, 
and shall build in the temple of the Lord, and you shall know 
that the Lord of hosts sent me to you. But this shall come to 
pass, if hearing you will hear the voice of the Lord your God. 


The chief consolation which the contemporaries of the 

prophet might draw from these predictions was a divine 

assurance that the temple would surely be restored, and 

that another great offspring of David's or Zorobabel's 

family would rule in it. 

a literal reference to Zorobabel. b. There shall be peace between the 
royal and the sacerdotal dignities (Ribera, Sanchez, Lapide, Meno- 
ehius, Tirinus, Gordon, and common). But this explanation im- 
presses one as being far-fetched, e. There shall be peace between 
the Jews and the Gentiles (Sa). This interpretation gives a very sat- 
isfactory meaning to the passage, but neither Jews nor Gentiles are 
mentioned in the context, d. There shall be peace between the Jews 
who have returned to the promised land and the Jews who have re- 
mained in Babylon (Schegg). But the context has nothing about 
such a division of the Jewish community, e. There shall be peace 
between the Messias and Jesus, between the type and the antitype 
(Knabenbauer). According to this view the highpriest is admon- 
ished to fulfil the duties of his office in a manner fully conformable 
with the perfection of the Messianic priesthood. This explanation 
too is open to several exceptions. 

8 And the crowns shall be. The prophet concludes by securing a 
perpetual memorial to the liberality of Helem, Tobias, and Idaias, 
who had brought the Babylonian contributions for the erection of the 
temple (cf. verse 10), and to the hospitality of Josias, the son of 
Sophonias, in whose house the Babylonian envoys had found shelter. 
For what is rendered "to Hem, the son of Sophonias," must accord- 
ing to the Hebrew text be translated "to the kindness of the son of 
Sophonias." The memorial consists in keeping the crowns in the 
temple treasury, or according to the Talinudic tradition, in the window 
of the temple porch. Induced by this manifestation of the divine 
favor, many of those who have been led far away into captivity 
shall come and offer gifts for the building of the temple (cf. Rom. 
i. 5; xvi. 19, 20; Eph. ii. 13). We may infer from the typical 
sense of the priesthood that the conversion of the Gentiles too is here 




1. Division of the Prophecy.— The chapter consists of 
two parts, a vision of Daniel (vv. 1-15) and its explanation 
(vv. 1G-28). The vision is of four beasts emerging from the 
sea: a lion with eagle's wings, a bear, a leopard with four 
wings and four heads, and a fourth beast with powerful iron 
teeth, destroying all things, and with ten horns, among which 
another little horn springs up, speaking proud things, before 
which three of the other horns are rooted out (vv. 1-8). The 
second part of the vision is of a celestial assize: the Al- 
mighty, represented as an aged man, is seated on a throne of 
flame and surrounded by myriads of attendants; the fourth 
beast is slain ; one like unto a son of man comes in the clouds 
of heaven into the presence of the Almighty, and receives 
from him a universal and never-endiug dominion (vv. 9-15). 
The second part of the chapter explains the vision: the 
four beasts signify four kingdoms; the fourth will be more 
powerful and formidable than the first three, but will be 
split up into ten kingdoms, and finally an eleventh will 
arise waging fearful war against the men and the kingdom 
of God, till it shall be destroyed by the power of the Most 
High. Then the people of the saints of the Most High 
will receive dominion over the entire earth. 

2. THE TIME OF THE PROPHECY is indicated in the text; 
it is given in the first year of Belshazzar (Baltassar). But, 
there is the greatest difficulty with regard to the question of 
Belshazzars identity. He is named king in Dan. viii. 1; 


king of Babylon in vii. 1; king of the Chaldees in v. 30. 
In the second of these passages Daniel speaks of Belshaz- 
zar's first year; in the first passage of his third year. We 
find a king of a similar name mentioned in Bar. i. 11, 12. 
But outside of these passages there occurs no Babylonian 
king of this name in either inspired or profane sources. 
Hence the most diverse opinions as to Belshazzar's identity 
have been advanced and defended: 

a. Belshazzar is identical with Naboned, the last Baby- 
lonian king before the city's capture by Cyrus (Flavins 
Josephus, Jerome, Ilengstcnberg, Auberlen, Havcly). 
Reasons: a. Dan. v. 30, 31 (Heb. v. 30; vi. 1); /3. besides 
his official name Nabunahid, the last king of Babylon 
might have a family name like that of his son Bel-sar- 
ussur, by which he might be known to the Jews. y. The 
Assyrian inscriptions speak of Nabunahid's son under the 
name Bel-sar-ussur. 

b. Belshazzar is identical with Laborosoarchod, or La- 
bosardoch, as Josephus writes the name (Scaliger, Cal- 
visius, Pererius, Maldonatus, Ebrard, Delitzsch). Reasons: 
a. According to Jer. xxvii. 7 the nations shall serve 
Nebuchadnezzar (Nabuchodonosor), his son, and his son's 
son. Now Laborosoarchod was the son's son or grandson of 
Nebuchadnezzar.^ Hence he was the last Babylonian king 
before Cyrus. /?. The appearance of the queen in the 
history of Belshazzar supposes that the latter was very 
youthful; the same conclusion is reached from Dan. vi. 1, 
where it is intimated that a full-grown man took the place 
of a boy in the royal dignity. Now Berosus (cf. Jos. c. 
Ap. i. 20) tells us that Laborosoarchod reigned only nine 
months, and was then murdered by the Babylonian pat- 
riots, because he gave all the signs of a bad character, 
though he was still a boy. y. As to the statement of Dan. 
viii. 1, in which the prophet speaks of the third year of 
Belshazzar, the patrons of this second view contend that 
Daniel there includes the years of Neriglissar, Laboroso- 


archod's kinsman, who was regent in his place. There is 
hardly need to point out the fallacy of these arguments. 

c. Belshazzar in the prophecies of Daniel and Baltassar 
occurring in Baruch are identical with Evilmerodach, the 
son and immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar (Lapide, 
Tirinus, Hofmann, Haevernick, Ohler, Hupfeld, Niebuhr, 
Ziindel, Keil, Kranichfeld, Kliefoth, Favre d'Envieu). 
Reasons: a. Both Daniel and Baruch call Belshazzar 
Nebuchadnezzar's son, and this testimony is confirmed by 
several other inferences. /?. A careful reading of the first 
four chapters of the prophet leaves 0113 under the impres- 
sion that Belshazzar is the immediate successor of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, y. Berosus' account of Evilmerodach agrees 
exactly with what we know of Belshazzar — of his luxury 
and his cruel tyranny. o\ These same characteristics 
render the appearance of the queen, the Median princess 
Amuhea and wife of Nebuchadnezzar, quite natural, since 
Belshazzar had been entirely careless about business affairs 
which had happened under his predecessor, e. If both 
Berosus and the canon of Ptolemaeus assign only two 
years to Evilmerodach's reign, they may be easily so di- 
vided as to give us three calendar years (Dan. viii. 1); 
besides, the canon of Syncellos expressly assigns three 
years to the reign of Evilmerodach. Boscawen has found 
among the Egibi-tablets inscriptions dated " the 23d 
day of the month Kislev of the third year of Marduk-sar- 
ussur." Now, Marduk is identical with Merodach, so that 
Marduk-sar-ussur and Evilmerodach (son of Merodach) 
are in all probability identical. May we not suppose that 
Evilmerodach assumed this name only when he ascended 
the throne on account of the Jewish Messianic hopes? 
His attempt to identify himself with the Redeemer prom- 
ised by the Hebrew prophets would well explain the fact 
that Daniel has avoided the use of that name, since it 
must have 'been a true abomination in the eyes of the 
seer. C. Both Megasthenes and Berosus relate that 
Evilmerodach was murdered, so that Daniel's account of 


Belshazzar's end agrees with the narrative of the historians. 
//. As to Dan. v. 30, 31, Daniel's gift of prophecy becomes 
even more striking, if we suppose that he predicted not 
only the imminent death of Belshazzar but also the far- 
off fate of the Babylonian empire, though Cyrus was not 
yet at the gates of the city. ■&. It is also certain that 
Naboned named his second son Nebuchadnezzar after the 
great king who had borne that name; may we not then 
suppose that he called his first son Belshazzar, after 
Nebuchadnezzar's son, who was reigning at the time of 
Belshazzar's birth ? 

d. The Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel is the Bel-sar- 
ussur of the Babylonian inscriptions, the first-born son of 
Naboned, who was habalsarru or co-regent, even in the life- 
time of his father. It must, however, be noted that even if 
this view be followed, the Baltassar of Baruch is Evilmero- 
dach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar (Delattre, Di'isterwald, 
Duncker, Schrader, etc.). Reasons: a. From the inscrip- 
tions it is not only certain that Naboned's first-born son 
was called Belshazzar, but it is equally certain that the 
father was especially interested in the advancement of his 
first-born. Belshazzar commanded the army in Accad even 
in the seventh year of his father's reign, who stayed at 
that time in Teva. Similar reports may be seen in the 
annals of the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh years of 
Naboned's reign, fi. The term habalsarru, by which Bel- 
shazzar is known, must be regarded as a technical term for 
" viceroy." In this manner we remove, or satisfactorily 
explain, a number of difficulties: y. In the taking of the 
city by Cyrus, no mention is made of Belshazzar, because, 
being at the head of the army, he must have been slain 
among the first. That his death was a well-known fact 
may be inferred from the circumstance that under the 
reign of Darius Hystaspis a pretender gave himself out to 
be Naboned's second son, Nebuchadnezzar, and as such he 
claimed the right to the Babylonian throne. o\ Again, 
Jeremias had predicted that God would give rule over the 


nations to Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and his son's son. Now, 
according to Herodotus (i. 186-188), Naboned's mother 
was a person of extraordinary political importance. Know- 
ing that Naboned himself did not belong to the royal 
family of the Babylonian kings, his mother, or, according 
to others, his wife, must have been the source of his right 
to the throne. She must therefore have been a daugh- 
ter of the grea't Nebuchadnezzar, so that Belshazzar was 
really the great monarch's grandson (or great-grandson). 
It must not be inferred from this that the queen mentioned 
at the banquet of Belshazzar is the same as Naboned's 
mother or wife; for we know that the latter had died 
before the time of the banquet, on the fifth day of Nisan 
in the ninth year of Naboned. The queen mentioned by 
Daniel must be either Belshazzar's wife, or perhaps the 
wife of Naboned. e. There is another fact mentioned in 
Dan. v. 7 and v. 1G which is fully explained by the present 
view. Belshazzar promised him who should satisfactorily 
interpret the vision the third rank in the kingdom. The 
question naturally presents itself: "Why the third?" 
From such passages as Gen. xli. 40, I. Kings xxiii. 17, and 
Esther x. 3, we expect that the successful interpreter will 
become the second personage in the realm. If we, there- 
fore, suppose that Belshazzar himself was the second per- 
son in the kingdom, being only co-regent, it becomes 
clear why he promises the third place to the successful 
interpreter. C. Nor can it be said that if Belshazzar 
was only co-regent he could not be called king of Babylon. 
For we know that Nebuchadnezzar was called king of 
Babylon at a time when his father was certainly still 
alive (Dan. i. 1; Jer. xlvi. 2). Solomon and Assurbanipal 
too bore the legal title during their fathers' lifetime. 
Neriglissar too calls himself son of Bel-sum-iskun, king of 
Babylon. Now, Bel-sum-iskun, the first-born son of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, died before his father. He must, therefore, 
have borne the name "king of Babylon " while his father 
still lived and reigned in Babylon. 


3. Authenticity of the Prophecy. — The authenticity 
of this prophecy must be specially treated, because Daniel's 
enemies have impugned it in a special manner. Not to 
mention their exception that it contains too clear a de- 
scription of future events to be written at the time of 
Daniel, — as if the prophetic prediction of the future were 
impossible, — they explain all the prophetic visions of the 
book in such a manner that their last fulfilment falls in 
the time of the Machabees. About the time of the Mach- 
abees, therefore, the second part of Daniel, beginning with 
c. vii., must have been written. This manner of reasoning, 
besides being based on a false foundation— for we shall see 
that Daniel's visions do not terminate at the period of the 
Machabees — is directly refuted by the following positive 
argument. In the second part of Daniel we recognize the 
language of the prophet, his peculiar symbolism, and the 
manners of his country. On the other hand, no one at the 
time of the Machabees can be assigned who could have 
written in the same language, used the same symbols, and 
imitated the Babylonian manners so true to life. Hence, 
the second part of Daniel has been written by the prophet 

All the single statements implied in this argument rest 
on a solid foundation, a. The whole second part of Daniel, 
up to c. xii., is written in the style of the first part; c. vii. 
in particular is written in Ohaldee, as are several of the 
preceding chapters. Thus the Babylonian people could 
understand the prophetic visions of Daniel and profit by 
them in so far as the Gentile world was permitted to be 
assisted by the Hebrew revelation. Then, c. vii. is entirely 
parallel to the explanation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in 
c. ii. ; c. viii. too explains certain of the preceding visions 
more in detail. The connection between the first and the 
second part of the book is, therefore, so intimate that if 
the first part is admitted to be authentic, the authenticity 
of the second follows as a matter of necessity. Finally, the 
Chaldee dialect, in which the seventh chapter has been 


written, contains forms which are too ancient to be used 
by an author of a later period (cf. Baer and Delitzsch, ed. 
Daniel, Introductory Remarks). 

1). Then, the second part of Daniel has an entirely Baby- 
lonian coloring. It is wholly different from the literary 
productions of Isaias and Jeremias, and indeed from any- 
thing that had up to Daniel's time been written by Hebrew 
authors. It may have been imitated after Daniel's time, 
but there was nothing in existence in Hebrew literature 
of which the Book of Daniel might be an imitation. Eze- 
chiel's writings are the only ones that can in any way be 
compared with Daniel's; but then Ezechiel too wrote in 
Babylon. To illustrate what we have said, let us draw at- 
tention to the description of God in Dan. vii. In the 
Psalms, and even in Isaias, there may be found single fig- 
ures and metaphors taken from human qualities and prop- 
erties under which God Almighty is represented: he may 
be seated on a throne, exercise justice or mercy or power; 
but nowhere is the human image applied to God in its 
entirety as it is in Dan. vii. Here God is the Ancient of 
days, his garments are white as snow, and his hair is like 
clean wool; his throne is brilliant like the flame of fire, 
and a river of fire issues forth from the throne, and flows 
majestically before it. A thousand times a thousand ser- 
vants attend on the Ancient of days, and myriads of min- 
isters stand before him while he holds judgment. All this 
outward splendor surrounding God's majesty is easily un- 
derstood if the Book of Daniel was written in Babylon; 
for the Babylonians were accustomed to the greatest dis- 
play on the part of their kings, and needed therefore such 
a magnificent description of God in order to conceive a 
true idea of him. Had Dan. vii. been written in Palestine, 
at the time of the Machabees, such a representation of God 
would not only have been unintelligible, but would have 
been highly improper, since it might have encouraged the 
idolatrous worship that Antiochus had introduced into the 


temple by erecting in it a statue of Jupiter Olympius (II. 
Mach. vi. 2). 

c. But the second part of Daniel does not merely express 
the language and thoughts of Daniel; it does not merely 
exhibit Babylonian coloring in its description of even the 
most important subject, of God Almighty himself, but it 
also employs symbols and figures which are entirely Baby- 
lonian in their nature, and which cannot be understood in 
their full significance unless the Babylonian symbolism is 
understood. To return once more to the description that 
Daniel gives of God, it is in exact keeping with the Baby- 
lonian statue of the Ancient of days. The whiteness of the 
garments may still be recognized; the hair of its head en- 
tirely resembles the curls of wool, while its beard streams 
down in long white locks. The colossal size of the figure, 
its position on wheels, are in perfect agreement with 
Daniel's description. Then again, take the images of the 
beasts that the prophet introduces where he describes 
the divers kingdoms: the winged lion is a common Baby- 
lonian image, called in the text of the inscriptions " nir- 
galli," or lion of the good principle. The bear, the leopard, 
the ram, are one and all animals that occur again and 
again on the Babylonian monuments. Before the recovery 
of the Babylonian literature it was almost impossible to 
understand the meaning of the horns in the prophecies of 
Daniel. The beast with the ten horns, for instance, ap- 
peared rather a piece of unbridled fancy than an image 
worthy of a place in the prophetic visions. But now all 
this has been changed: in the Assyro-Chaldee sculpture we 
see winged lions and gods and heroes, all alike represented 
with horns. Some figures have four horns, others six; but 
in all cases the horns are a real ornament to the figure, 
arranged as they are in pairs, and in regular order. In 
Palestine our late explorers have searched in vain for traces 
and vestiges from which these images might have been 
borrowed. The Jordan and the sea, the dew of heaven 
and the vineyards of Judea, may have served Isaias and 


Jeremias as the sources of their special imagery; but there 
is nothing in Palestine that could have suggested the sym- 
bols of the Book of Daniel. It follows, therefore, that the 
author of this book wrote under Assyrian and Babylonian 
influence, was acquainted with Chaldee myths and fables, 
and wrote for a people that must be impressed by figures 
and symbols taken from Babylonian sources. Daniel, 
therefore, is the only person who could have written the 
whole book now known under his name (cf. Fabre d'En- 
vieu, pp. 556 if.; Vigouroux, "La Bible et les decouverts 
mod.," iv. p. 494). 

4. The Prophecy of Daniel has not been taken 
from Babylonian Sources.— The inscriptions mention a 
Silik-moulou-khi as mediator between the gods and men. 
His attributes are essentially human, and exercised for the 
benefit of the human race. Approaching his father Ilea, 
the Ancient of days, he prays for and with men. Ilea gives 
him the power to conquer the evil spirits, and in general the 
enemies of man (cf. Lenormant, " La Magie," sub v. Silik- 
moulou-khi). A later hymn identifies this mediator with 
the Chaldee-Babylonian Merodach, or Mardouk, and the 
Assyrian translators of the magic texts thus always trans- 
late the name " Silik-moulou-khi." 

The mediatorial functions of the Silik-moulou-khi closely 
resemble those of the Sosiosh in the most ancient texts of 
the Zoroastrian religion, and those of Mithra in the Acha 1 - 
menian dynasty. Mithra means " friend," and this is the 
equivalent of Silik-moulou-khi, which signifies " he who 
disposes good for men." Now M. Nicolas (Des doctrines 
religieuses des Juifs, p. 270) maintains that these mytho- 
logical fables were precisely the sources from which Daniel 
drew his predictions. " Change the names in the Mazdean 
drama," the author says, "and you will fancy yourself read- 
ing a Jewish apocalypse. There are resemblances affect- 
ing the minor points of detail. The fifth monarchy of 
Daniel corresponds to the fifth dynasty founded by the 
liberator Sosiosh. The prince of the evil spirits who places 


himself at the head of the idolatrous people to fight against 
the chosen people of God resembles greatly the prince of 
darkness leading the Devas and the impure nations against 
the prince of light and his worshippers. The Messianic 
reign of a thousand years recalls the 'hazare/ or similar 
period of the two precursors (Oshedar-Bami and Oshedar- 
Mah) of the modern liberator. And in the Jewish apoca- 
lypse as in the Mazdean eschatology, a resurrection of the 
dead is placed at the commencement of the reign of the 
deliverer and of the proclamation of a new law." From 
these parallel features the author infers: "The doctors of 
the Synagogue, without absolutely intending it, without 
perhaps being altogether conscious of their act, recalled 
Persian opinions to aid them in the explanation of the 
Messianic expectation of their fathers." 

A little reflection will show that the above inferences 
are not entirely legitimate : 1. They imply that the proph- 
ecies of Daniel have been written at a comparatively recent 
date, at the Machabean period, for instance. Now it has 
been already shown that this supposition is not admissible. 
2. Even if we were to admit the late authorship, it would 
be most improbable that at that late date the Jews should 
have had recourse to the mythology of an extinct power in 
order to explain their own national teachings, for which 
they had repeatedly risked life and liberty. 3. It is im- 
possible to explain the doctrines of either Hebrew or Per- 
sian system satisfactorily, if imitation, reproduction, or 
adaptation are the ultimate cause of their presence in either 
creed. 4. The presentiments and predictions found among 
the Babylonians and Persians are nothing but a dim and 
floating vision of a better future, with nothing in the past 
or present to which they can attach themselves; they are, 
therefore, destitute of moral power and practical results. 
But Daniel's Messianic doctrine is living, coherent, and in 
keeping with the whole Hebrew system of Messianic pre- 
dictions and expectations. 5. Finally, it is sufficient to put 
side by side the fabulous and extravagant myths of the Per- 


sians with the sober and earnest prophecies of the Hebrew 
seer in order to be convinced of their distinct origin. 
Compare, for instance, Daniel's abomination of desolation, 
his decreed ruin and downfall with the Mazdean torrents 
of blood, powerful enough to turn mill-wheels, or with the 
Persian comet Gurzshehr precipitating itself on the earth, 
and making men, both pure and impure, pass through a 
fiery stream of molten metal. 

5. Messianic Character of Daniel's Prophecy.— The 
reference of Daniel's prophecy to the Messias is principally 
inferred from its announcement of the " son of man." To 
prove that this latter term is a Messianic name is to estab- 
lish the Messianic character of the whole prediction. 1. 
The first proof for the reference of the " son of man " to 
the Messias may be based on Old Testament passages in 
which God's coming is connected with phenomena similar 
to those accompanying the advent of the son of man : Ex. 
xiii. 21, 22; xiv. 24; Ps. civ. 3; Nab. 1, 3; Is. xix. 1; xiv. 
14; Ex. xvi. 10; xix. 9; xxiv. 1G; xxxiii. 9; xxxiv. 5; 
Lev. xvi. 2; Num. ix. 15; x. 34; xi. 25; Dent. xxxi. 15; 
Ps. xvii. 10; xcvi. 2 ff.; III. Kings viii. 10-12; II. Par. vi. 
I; Ezech. i. 4; x. 3, etc. Besides these passages in 
which God's appearance is described as resembling that 
of the son of man, we may draw attention to the fact that 
according to the Old Testament prophecies universal 
dominion belongs to the Messias: Gen. xlix. 10; Ps. ii. G; 
xliv. 5 f. ; lxxi. 1 f. ; Is. xi. 10; xlix. G; liii. 11; Jer. xxiii. 
5; xxx. 21; Ezech. xxxiv. 23; Mich. v. 4, etc. Now ac- 
cording to Daniel, all power and dominion over all the na- 
tions and tribes of the earth is given to the "son of man." 
He is therefore identical with the Messias of the other 

2. That the " son of man " is identical with the Messias 
is still more patent from the New Testament. The expres- 
sion occurs not less than 82 times in the Gospels: in that 
of Matthew, 30 times; in that of Mark, 14 times; in that 
of Luke, 2G times; in that of John, 12 times. Besides, 


the expression occurs in Acts vii. 55 and in Apoc. i. 13; 
xiv. 14. It is hardly probable that the New Testament 
should use this expression so often in the same meaning, 
applying it invariably to Jesus Christ, without ever indi- 
cating that it has in Daniel a different signification, had 
Daniel really used it in a different meaning. But more 
than this: Jesus expressly applies Daniel's description of 
the " son of man " to himself where he speaks about the 
last judgment: Matt. xxiv. 30; Mark xiii. 2G; cf. Apoc. i. 
7, and especially where he stands before the judgment of 
Caiphas and gives solemn testimony of his Messiasship, 
Matt. xxvi. G3, 64; cf. Act. vii. 58. It is therefore certain 
beyond all reasonable doubt that the New Testament views 
the expression " son of man " as a peculiarly Messianic title. 

3. The reference of the " son of man " to the Messias is 
also evident from the Book of Enoch, xli. 1-3. Even an 
author so little open to suspicion as Schiirer has it (The 
Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, II. iii. p. G9) : 
" Further, the objection based upon the circumstance that, 
according to Matt. xvi. 13-1G, John xii. 34, the expres- 
sion ' son of man ' was not as yet a current designation 
for the Messias in the time of Christ, whereas it is of fre- 
quent occurrence in this sense in the allegories (of the Book 
of Enoch), is without force. For we are by no means at 
liberty to infer from those passages that the expression 
1 son of man' was not at that time currently in use as a 
Messianic title. In the case of the passage in John this 
inference is based simply upon false exegesis. The passage 
in Matthew again is disposed of by the circumstance that, 
in its original form as preserved in Mark viii. 27; Luke ix.. 
18, the expression ' son of man ' does not occur at all." The 
Sibylline oracles too apply the expression " son of man " 
to the Messias; for in lib. iii. we have nothing but a para- 
phrase of the passage in Daniel (cf. Diisterwald, p. 179): 

i)£,ei ev v€(pe\ij 7rpoS acfrdirov acftdiTos avroz 

iv So £,r\ XpicrTos (TW n fADVoai ayyeXiTypm 

Kcii Kadiaei /c.r.A, 


4. For the testimonies of the Fathers concerning the 
real meaning of the expression " son of man," we refer our 
reader to the passages indicated in Kilber's Analysis Biblica, 
ed. II. i. 4G5. It appears from these testimonies as well as 
from the views expressed by the scholastics and by the more 
recent theologians that Christian tradition is practically 
unanimous in considering " the son of man " as a Messianic 

5. Considering this agreement between the Old and the 
New Testament, between the apocryphal and the Christian 
tradition regarding the meaning of the expression "son of 
man," it cannot astonisli us to find that Jewish tradition 
too harmonizes with these religious sources. The Talmud 
(Sanhedrin, fol. 38, col. 2; cf. Hagigah, fol. 14. col. 1) has 
the following comment on Dan. vii. 9 : " What will this 
say ? (the placing of the thrones). One throne for himself, 
and one for David, these are the words of Rabbi Akiba. 
Said to him Rabbi Jose: Akiba, how long wilt thou render 
the Shechinah profane ? " The peculiar meaning of the 
Shechinah in Jewish theology is well enough defined to 
show that the passage was evidently regarded as Messianic, 
and could not, therefore, be applied to David without 
seeming profanity. 

The Talmud (Sanhedrin, fol. 98, col. 1) interprets Dan. 
vii. 13: "Rabbi Joshua ben Levi asked: In one place it is 
written, ' Behold one like the son of man, etc./ and in an- 
other, ' Lowly and riding upon an ass ' (Zach. ix. 9). (lie 
answered), If they be worthy, he (the Messias) will come 
with the clouds of heaven; if not, he will come lowly and 
riding upon an ass." Similar Messianic references we 
find in the later Jewish writers: Saadia, for instance, who 
flourished in the ninth century, has the following passage: 
"This (one like the son of man) is the Messias our right- 
eousness; for is it not written with reference to Messias, 
" Lowly and riding upon an ass ? (Zach. ix. 9.) Surely he 
comes in humility, for he does not come upon a horse, in 
glory. But since it is written, With the clouds of heaven, 


it signifies the angels of the heavenly hosts, which is the 
great glory the Creator will give to the Messias, as it 
is written, With the clouds of heaven. Then he shall be 
great in government. When it is said, The Ancient of days 
did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his 
head like pure wool, he speaks after the manner of men. 
They brought him to the Ancient of days; for it is written 
(Ps. cix. 1), The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at 
my right hand; and there was given him dominion, i.e., 
he gave to him a government and a kingdom, as it is writ- 
ten (Ps. ii. G), Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill 
of Sion; and as it is written (I. Kings ii. 10), He shall 
exalt the horn of his anointed; his kingdom shall not 
depart, and shall not be destroyed for ever and ever." 

We may add here the testimony of the Midrash on Num- 
bers (vi. 22, sect. 11) : " Because the Israelites observed the 
law among them (the Edomites), the Holy One will make 
them inherit in the future the throne of glory, as it is said, 
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness. . . ." 
See also Abarbanel (Comm. in h. 1. fol. 50, col. 1); Jac- 
chiades (Jer. xxxiii. G); David Kimchi (Comm. in Zach. 
93); Jarchi, li. Simeon. 

Dan. vii. 

In the first year of Baltassar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a 
dream and the vision of his head was upon his bed, and writing 
the dream, he comprehended it in few words, and relating the 
sum of it in short, he said: I saw in my vision by night, and be- 
hold the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea. ■ And 
four great beasts, different one from another, came up out of the 

1 And four great beasts. It appears to be generally admitted that the 
seventh and the second chapters of Daniel refer to the same events. 
In both chapters there is question of four kingdoms, though the sym- 
bols by which the kingdoms are represented are different in the two 
chapters. In the second chapter it was Nabuchodonosor who saw 
the symbols ; hence they were such as represented the kingdoms only 
from without, as it were. The different kingdoms of the world in 
their fullest glory are but component parts of one colossal figure, 
bearing the outward resemblance of a man. The power of God's 


sea. The first was like a lioness, and had the wings of an eagle. I 

kingdom is but humble, as a stone cut without hands. But on the 
other hand, gold, silver, brass, iron, are only man's handiwork; while 
the stone representing the kingdom of God is not made by man, "cut 
without hands." But though interpreters recognize the substantial 
identity of the events foretold in the second and the seventh chapters, 
they differ regarding almost all particulars of these two passages of 

Various Explanations. — a. A number of Protestant interpreters 
have viewed the four kingdoms of Daniel, not as four distinct king- 
doms, but rather as four distinct periods of the same Babylonian 
kingdom (Benzel, von der Hardt, Harenberg, Doderlein, Scharfen- 
berg). It is astonishing that a view which hardly needs a word of 
refutation on account of its inherent improbability has found so many 
adherents even among able men of science. It has been ably refuted 
by Bertholdt. 

b. Another explanation regards not the Babylonian, but the Assyr- 
ian kingdom as the first reign spoken of by Daniel (Ewald, Bunsen). 
But the prophet's text itself is evidently against this theory, so that 
Ewald has retracted his opinion in the later edition of his work, 
"Die Propheten des alten Bundes." Ziindel has lately refuted this 
view, though it is hardly worth that much attention on account of 
the scarcity of its defenders. 

c. According to an explanation that dates back to Porphyry, the 
first kingdom is the Babylonian ; the second, the Medo-Persian ; the 
third, the kingdom of Alexander ; the fourth, the kingdom of Alex- 
ander's successors. This interpretation counts among its adherents 
such writers as Grotius, J. Chr. Becmann, Kosenmiiller, L. Bertholdt, 
O. ZOckler, and the Catholic authors Jahn and G. K. Mayer. Its refu- 
tation will be given below. 

d. Hitzig and Bedepennig have sought a new way out of the diffi- 
culties that Daniel's yrediction implies for all Bationalistic authors. 
The first kingdom is that of Nabuchodonosor; the second, that of his 
successors ; the third, the Medo-Persian ; the fourth, the Macedo- 
Grecian. The refutation of this theory will be found under the next 

e. There is another explanation of the four kingdoms that may 
be called both ancient and recent, since it has been defended by sev- 
eral of the patristic writers and is still defended by a great number 
of scholars in our days. The first kingdom is according to this theory 
the Babylonian ; the second is the Median ; the third, the Persian ; 
the fourth, the Greek-Syrian (Ephrem, Cosmas Indicopleustes, Jahn, 
Dereser, Scholz, Bade, Loch, and Reischl, and the Protestant writers, 
Newton, Bleek, Delitzsch, Desprez, Eichhorn, Ewald, Hilgenfeld, 
Kranichfeld, Gaussen, von Lengerke, Maurer, de Wette). It maybe 
said, in general, that nearly all those writers who place the author- 
ship of Daniel in the time of the Machabees have found it conven- 
ient to adhere to this explanation of the four kingdoms. 

As to proofs for the interpretation, we shall enumerate the reasons 
advanced for the single kingdoms in order. 1. In ii. 38 Daniel says 
expressly to Nabuchodonosor: " Thou therefore art the head of gold." 


beheld till her wings were plucked off, and she was lifted up from 

Now the head of gold represents the first kingdom, so that Nabucho- 
donosor represents the first of Daniel's four kingdoms. The question 
which comes up at this point regards the circumstance whether Na- 
buchodonosor personally is the head of gold, so that his successor may- 
be the second kingdom, or whether the kingdom of Nabuchodonosor 
is symbolized by the head of gold. We decidedly defend this latter 
view against Hitzig and his followers. This is clear from the context 
of the above words. For in ii. 89 we read : " and after thee shall rise 
up another kingdom. ..." Now the last three words of this prom- 
ise furnish so many arguments for the view that Nabuchodonosor's 
kingdom and not his person was symbolized by the head of gold. A 
kingdom, not a mere king, was to rise up after the monarch, showing 
that the second symbol represented a kingdom, not the person of a 
king. Again, the kingdom was to risk up after Nabuchodonosor ; 
therefore it did not exist at his time, nor was it merely to pass over to 
another ruler. Thirdly, another kingdom was to rise up after 
Nabuchodonosor, so that the second symbol could not apply to either 
Nabuchodonosor's kingdom as governed by his successor, or to the 
person of his successor. Besides, Hitzig himself explains Dan. vii. 
as referring to the Babylonian, the Median, the Persian, and the Greek 
kingdoms ; why then follow a different explanation in Dan. ii. V The 
author's assumption that Daniel knew only two Babylonian kings, 
Nabuchodonosor and Baltassar, is wholly gratuitous ; the person who 
wrote under the name of Daniel did not live long before Josephus, if 
Hitzig's theory is correct. Now, Josephus (Antiq. X. xi. 2) knew as 
many as three successors of Nabuchodonosor. What right have we 
then to suppose that Pseudo-Daniel knew less about Babylonian his- 
tory? But besides all this, we have shown above that most probably 
Baltassar was no king at all, being only the co-regent of his father, 
Naboned. How then could Daniel represent him by the second sym- 
bol as the second kingdom ? 

2. The second kingdom of Daniel is the Median. Reasons: a. The 
symbols themselves represent the Median kingdom admirably. Ac- 
cording to Dan. ii. it is imaged by silver, which is inferior to gold ; 
according to Dan. vii. it is like a bear standing up on one side, and 
having three rows in its mouth and devouring much flesh. Now, 
Darius the Mede was far inferior to Nabuchodonosor, having power 
only in one part of the preceding kingdom ; still, he ruled over three 
peoples — the Medes, the Persians, and the Babylonians— and devoured 
much flesh when subduing and destroying the kingdom of the Baby- 
lonians, b. According to Lengerke, Daniel has conceived the rule 
of the Medes as succeeding that of the Babylonians, following in this 
view a tradition found in Xenophon rather than the trustworthy 
record of Herodotus (I. 130; cf VIII. 8). For Xenophon has it that 
Cyrus subdued Babylonia in the name of the Median king Cyaxares 
II. c. This explanation of Daniel is confirmed by his symbol of the 
ram in the eighth chapter. For the two horns of this ram clearly show 
that Daniel considers the Medes and the Persians as constituting two 
distinct kingdoms, d. A similar argument for Daniel's dividing the 
Medo-Persian rule into two kingdoms is derived from Dan. v. 28, 


the earth, and stood upon her feet as a man, and the heart of a 

where the prophet speaks of the Medes and the Persians, inverting 
the order of Is. xxi. 2 ; again, Uelitzsch calls attention to the circum- 
stance that in Dan. vi. 1 ; ix. 1; xi. 1, Darius is expressly noted as 
being a Mede, while in vi. 29 Cyrus is said to be a Persian. The in- 
spired writer, therefore, distinguished the Medes and the Persians 
from each other, e. The description of the second kingdom (Dan. 
vii. 5) exactly fits in with the circumstance that the kingdom of the 
Medes, like those of the Babylonians and the Persians, embraced 
warlike and aggressive nations. The value of these arguments will 
appear when we shall speak of the next theory concerning the four 

3. As to the third kingdom, it must be observed in the first place 
that the symbol exhibited in the prophet cannot be understood of the 
kingdom of Alexander so as to exclude his successors. Hengstenberg 
has satisfactorily proved that at the time of the Machabees no such 
distinction was made between Alexander and his successors as to war- 
rant us in considering the former as the third and the latter as the 1 
fourth kingdom. As to the other reasons that Bertholdt and his 
adherents give for such a separation, they are one and all founded 
upon the subjective view of Daniel's prophecies, which are peculiar to 
those interpreters, and cannot claim any serious attention on account of 
their own intrinsic probability. It necessarily follows from what has 
been said of the second kingdom, as compared with what will be said 
of the fourth, that the third can only be the kingdom of the Persians. 

4. The fourth kingdom is symbolized in chapter vii. by a beast 
with ten horns, from among which rises a little horn before which three 
of the